Skip to main content

Full text of "The Yellow Wave: A Romance of the Asiatic Invasion of Australia"

See other formats

This is a digital copy of a book that was preserved for generations on library shelves before it was carefully scanned by Google as part of a project 
to make the world's books discoverable online. 

It has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject 
to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired. Whether a book is in the public domain may vary country to country. Public domain books 
are our gateways to the past, representing a wealth of history, culture and knowledge that's often difficult to discover. 

Marks, notations and other marginalia present in the original volume will appear in this file - a reminder of this book's long journey from the 
publisher to a library and finally to you. 

Usage guidelines 

Google is proud to partner with libraries to digitize public domain materials and make them widely accessible. Public domain books belong to the 
public and we are merely their custodians. Nevertheless, this work is expensive, so in order to keep providing this resource, we have taken steps to 
prevent abuse by commercial parties, including placing technical restrictions on automated querying. 

We also ask that you: 

+ Make non- commercial use of the files We designed Google Book Search for use by individuals, and we request that you use these files for 
personal, non-commercial purposes. 

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort to Google's system: If you are conducting research on machine 
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the 
use of public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help. 

+ Maintain attribution The Google "watermark" you see on each file is essential for informing people about this project and helping them find 
additional materials through Google Book Search. Please do not remove it. 

+ Keep it legal Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just 
because we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States, that the work is also in the public domain for users in other 
countries. Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of 
any specific book is allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Google Book Search means it can be used in any manner 
anywhere in the world. Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe. 

About Google Book Search 

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and to make it universally accessible and useful. Google Book Search helps readers 
discover the world's books while helping authors and publishers reach new audiences. You can search through the full text of this book on the web 

at jhttp : //books . qooqle . com/ 

he yellow 


James Alexander 
Kenneth Mackay 


l : a^\ y ^ ( \: V: r 

Cl \o 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 




Member of the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales 


gttblts'ure tit Orfcinars to J)tr ^ttajcsig tht fljiuen 

[All riglJt renewed] 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


A ')<0 /.« ■■■■■ 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 













Digitized by VjOOQIC 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


For my facts with regard to the Eussian advance on 
India I have drawn on the writings of Mr. Charles 
Marvin and Professor Vambery. To a pamphlet by 
the late Mr. George Eanken (' Capricornus ') I am 
indebted for the scheme of Fort Mallarraway, and 
I have also received from him much generous help in 
all that appertains to our land system where touched 
on throughout the book. Mr. Ernest Favenc has 
kindly afforded me much valuable information as to 
the geographical features of the country traversed by 
the invaders. The illustrations employed to explain 
the subject of elective affinity were suggested to me by 
a work of Max Nordau's ; and I have made use of an 
article by Mr. Hardacre, of Queensland, in describing 
the probable directions and effects on coast-trade of 
the proposed land-grant railways. 

Kenneth Mackay. 
April, 1895. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


























Digitized by VjOOQIC 











vn. * hatten's ringers ' - 










Digitized by VjOOQIC 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

Digitize d by VjOOQIC 


BOOK 1. 




Girdled with flame, and leaving a phosphorescent 
gleam to mark her pathway, the S.S. Genoa moved 
swiftly on through the slumbrous Arabian Sea. 
Night had fallen, and the stars looked down on the 
silent waters — some fixed and cold, as though weary 
of their endless vigil over sin and shame, others 
twinkling «and bright, as if for ever winking at man's 
impurities. From the argus-eyed Leviathan voices 
and laughter rose fitfully, as the music of Blumann's 
latest waltz died away. On her deck, hidden from 
the sea by a cunning drapery of bunting, the 
passengers were now filling in the interval before the 
next dance after the manner of comrades who have 
chanced on a good ship and congenial company. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


He would have been a sour-souled stoic indeed who 
could have stood apart with folded arms and pulse- 
less heart unmoved by such a scene of camaraderie : 
for to-night bright eyes caught from the soft glow of 
the electric lamps a more alluring radiance, and 
shapely forms borrowed new and quaint graces alike 
from the dresses of long-dead queens and from peach- 
cheeked peasant girls. Though the majority wore 
fancy costumes, here and there a plain dress-suit gave 
its wearer a certain conspicuousness from its very 

Among those thus rendered noticeable was a man 
who stood speaking to an ideal Marguerite. As he 
paused the girl looked up at him, half in interest, 
half in wonder, and Philip OrlofPs swarthy cheek 
flushed, and, bending lower, he again spoke on in 
a voice full of anxious questioning. As she listened, a 
wave of painful unrest fled over the girl's face, but, 
heeding it not, he still pleaded on, while, unnoticed, 
a man garbed as Mephistopheles stood a little apart 
watching them. Why he had chosen to personate so 
malignant a spirit was certainly not explained by his 
figure, nor did the somewhat receding chin aiid 
features of almost woman-like delicacy present a 
better raison d'etre. In the bright, restless gray eyes, 
however, shone a flame, now tender and alluring, and 
now, as he let them rest on Orloff, almost devilish in 
its scornful malignity ; but beyond an occasional 
glance, he apparently paid little interest to the two, 
devoting the most of his attention to the couples who 
kept passing him in their promenade. As these moved 
by, his glance fell with a certain triumph of power on 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


each woman's face, and in nearly every instance, 
sometimes certainly more tardily than in others, 
their eyes turned with a strange, fascinated look to 
meet his gaze. Disturbed in his strange occupation 
by the band, Mephistopheles turned his eyes towards 

' This is our dance, I think,' said Orloff, as the girl 

* Yes/ she replied, laying her hand on his arm ; 
then, with a little shiver, she withdrew it, saying, with 
painful hesitancy : * I'm so sorry ; you have made a 

Following her glance, Orloff saw Mephistopheles 
looking straight at her. 

' Nonsense, Miss Cameron !' he retorted sharply, 
and pointing to his programme. ' I am quite right, 
I can assure you.' 

Advancing, and keeping his eyes fixed on hers, 
Mephistopheles coolly remarked : 

* This is our dance, Miss Cameron : am I not right?' 
'Yes, Mr. Harden,' the girl answered, moving 

towards him, and totally ignoring her companion. 

With a look of malicious triumph Harden led her 
away, leaving Orloff gazing after them in speechless 
and puzzled anger. 

■ Unallured by the music, and totally regardless of 
the delightful companionship to be found on deck, 
Count Zenski sat alone in the smoking-room, a large 
and fragrant cigar between his lips. 

' Ma foi,' he mused, as he watched a particularly 
large and perfect ring of smoke float gracefully 
upwards, ' what fortune to have half an hour with 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


no worse company than myself! It would go hard 
with me to find better in this ship. How incompre- 
hensibly dull these English are ! If in trade, they 
exude shops ; if of the Church, what a wonderful 
personage is their God, so merciless to the small 
remnants who are foreign, so prone, at all things 
English, to, as they have it, " wink the other eye." 
Peste, they are bourgeois at heart, every one, utterly 
ignorant of everything save their own particular shop. 
And yet I do wrong them ; they adore the horse, 
and let the Jew canaille make fortunes out of their 

It must not be supposed that the Count ever gave 
these opinions to the outer world. Being a Eussian, 
this would be unlikely ; being in some sort a diplo- 
matist, it was impossible. Who or what he had 
originally been, he and the Czar alone knew. To the 
English world he was a semi-military-looking man of 
about fifty, and the managing director of a Eussian 
firm of contractors, with offices in London. According 
to his own statement, he was travelling to Australia 
with the twofold object of regaining his health and 
seeking new outlets for his firm's capital; but with 
all his delightful frankness, he omitted to add that 
the prospect of securing from the Queensland Govern- 
ment the right to construct important land-grant 
railway lines was the real motive for his voyage. 

As a matter of fact, he was now on his way to 
Brisbane, armed with full authority to undertake this 
work if able to come to terms with the Government, 
and posed as a devoted admirer of British liberty as 
opposed to the slavery of his tyrant-ridden native land. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


As he admired with a smoker's lazy interest the 
white and gradually-lengthening ash of his cigar, the 
door opened. "With a weary shrug he looked round, 
then exclaimed cordially : 

' Ah, mon ami, welcome ! What ! tired of les beaux 
yeux so soon ?' 

For a moment Orloff hesitated ; then, seeing that 
the Count was alone, he walked in and took a seat at 
his table. Accepting a cigar, he sat moodily pulling 
at it. Meanwhile the Count observed him with a 
certain friendly interest. 

Several things had helped to draw these two 
together; for, apart from a common tie of blood, 
Zenski and Philip's father were old friends. A year 
ago, when dying, the elder Orloff had given certain 
last messages to Zenski, then in Sydney, to deliver to 
his son. This charge the Count had carried out on 
his return to England, and while doing so, and in 
after meetings, he formed as true a friendship for the 
young Australian as his cynical nature was capable of. 
Utterly bored by his fellow-passengers, who, with 
perhaps the exception of Harden, held out no possi- 
bilities above the commonplace, Zenski turned from 
their endless apotheosis of brawn, muscle, and horse- 
flesh to OrlofFs fresh enthusiasm with positive relief. 
Gradually it struck the Eussian that this man, with 
the form of a Hercules and the instincts of a leader, 
would be absolutely wasted among the Cabinet-moved 
dummies of Australian military life. On the other 
hand, the knowledge Orloff possessed of this very life 
might, under different conditions, be made the 
stepping-stone to a post which he could never 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


attain as a captain of the Queensland Mounted 
Eifles. To that position Orloff was now returning, 
having qualified himself during the last two years 
in India and in England for a sta$ appointment in 
Brisbane. Bather pleased at Orloff s silence, for the 
Count looked on conversation during the best half of 
a good cigar as barbarous, Zenski watched the firm, 
dark face, noting with some satisfaction that the 
heavy moustache pressed over the cigar as though the 
teeth were set close. 

' I am indebted to a woman for this companionship 
and this silence,' he mused. 'Poor devil! women 
have done much for Bussia; who knows but that 
this silly miss may save this man from himself and 
for us, after all ?' Dropping the butt of his cigar into 
the tray, Zenski said quietly : * What will la belle 
Heather think of this desertion ?' 

* What she may think is no affair of mine,' his 
companion replied shortly. 

' Ah, you surprise me !' 

' I fail to see why it should/ 

' My friend, you are not yourself. You grow 
English. Believe me, no woman is worth losing 
one's temper for,' murmured the Count. 

' Zenski,' replied Orloff, rising and seating himself 
beside the Bussian, ' I needn't fence with, you ; you 
know that I love this girl.' 

' Then why, my friend, do you run away and leave 

For a little while Orloff smoked on in silence. Then 
he asked : ' Do you believe in hypnotism ?' 

' I think it possible ; do you mean to practise it ?' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


' No ; but I begin to think it is being practised.' 
' Doubtless ; but, my friend, what matter if it is ? 
One way of making a living is as honest as another.' 

* You misunderstand me,' replied Orloff impatiently. 
' Do you think a man by it might influence a woman 
against her will ?' 

' Ah, the woman is in it, then ?' grinned the Count. 

' Put your confounded cynicism on one side,' re- 
torted Orloff, * and answer me.' 

'I might reply, "I'll see you d d first;" but, 

thanks to my being foreign, and rendered affable by 
nicotine, I am at your service.' 

' You remember that night when Harden tried his 
will-power on a lot of the passengers ?' 

' Perfectly ; and, now that you recall it, his greatest 
success was scored with Miss Cameron. Am I not 
right ?' asked Zenski maliciously. 

* Ever since then the fellow has seemed to exert a 
strange fascination over her,' Orloff replied bitterly. 

' So this is your trouble,' laughed Zenski. ' She 
seems a willing subject, Philip.' 

' I admit it,' replied Orloff, throwing away his 

'Then, my friend, what is there left? Call it 
hypnotism, if it will break your fall ; fight on, if you 
think the game worth the candle ; but, for heaven's 
sake, don't spoil a good cigar for a woman's whim !' 

'You don't understand,' replied the other; 'I 
would save her for her own sake, not for mine.' 

As he finished, Zenski looked at him in pitying 

' My poor boy, you are deplorably ignorant. When 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


a woman wants to go to the devil, never interfere 
unless you want to let her drag you after her.' Then, 
seeing an angry gleam in Orloffs eyes, he added: 
* But from what do you want to save her ? After all, 
is it not a matter of choice ; if she prefers Harden, 
why not ?' 

Struck by the force of Zenski's question, Orloff 
made no reply, for though filled with doubts as to 
Harden, he yet had to admit that they might, after 
all, be the creations of his own jealousy. Still, 
Heather's manner, so unlike the frankness of a few 
weeks ago, so full of earnest and wistful tenderness 
when with him, and yet so wholly subservient to 
Harden, filled him with dark, intangible foreboding. 

Before they had sailed he had asked her to be his 
wife, and though she had given no definite reply, her 
admission that she at least loved no one else, and her 
manner, until that night when Harden put her under 
the power of his eyes, had made him deem she loved 
him. Devoted to his profession, Orloff had taken little 
heed of women before Heather came into his life ; but 
now she had absorbed all the love of his strong, self- 
contained nature, and to see her thus drifting away 
from him, not of her own will, but through the volition 
of another, stirred his soul into madness. Still, he 
held her bound by no promise, and, as Zenski had put 
it, it might be, after all, a matter of choice, and if 
such were the case, what right had he to interfere, or, 
indeed, to impute any other than honourable motives 
to Harden ? 

For his part, Zenski, utterly sceptical on the subject 
of women, was content to suppose that Heather had 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


tired of his friend, and this being so, he now decided 
to make capital out of her fickleness. Aware, how- 
ever, that to continue the subject at once would be 
both wanting in tact and likely to further anger 
Orloff, he led him to speak of his profession. Anxious 
to escape from his own thoughts, and full of military 
enthusiasm, Orloff eagerly launched into the subject 
of arms. Knowing that his companion had made a 
study of Australian defences, and was keen enough to 
note their utter ineffectiveness, Zenski now began to 
point out how little honour was to be reaped in a 
field where active service was unlikely and where 
Parliamentary influence reigned supreme. 

' My dear Philip,' said he, * you will find yourself 
as surely bound as Napoleon to his rock. It is im- 
probable that there will be any more goats to capture. 
And even if there should be, are you sure that you 
will get a chance ? I doubt it. To give you a little 
illustration : When I was last in Australia, a colonel 
was asked to resign and again devote himself to 
making boots. As it happened, he had many votes 
in the electorate of a Cabinet Minister, so he called 
on him, and said, " You have taken away my living ; 
you must find me another." " How ?" " Dismiss the 
lieutenant who is adjutant of my battalion, and 
appoint me." ' 

' What ! did he accept the adjutantcy of the regi- 
ment he had commanded ?' exclaimed Orloff. 

' Pardieu, yes ! and the cream of the joke is that, 
when they appointed him, he was totally unfit to 
perform the duties.' 

' But I have made my profession the study of my 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


life,' said Orloff; 'they could never displace me to 
make room for one incompetent.' 

* So had the man the colonel displaced, my friend,' 
laughed Zenski. * Now, if you had entered the service 
of the Czar, how different !' 

' What chances would I have had there ¥ retorted 
Orloff; ' a stranger, the son of a merchant, how could 
I have ever hoped to break my way through the aristo- 
cratic ranks that encircle the Czar ¥ 

' Softly, my friend. You speak our language, you 
are of our blood, and, if you are the son of a dealer, 
you are the friend of Zenski, also a dealer, if you will, 
but, for all that, possessed of a voice that reaches as 
far as most men's. Then you have learned much 
that a servant of the Czar should know in these days. 
No need for such as you to dangle on the outskirts of 
a palace undermined by plots. Asia lies as a rich and 
boundless field for the feet of the servants of the Czar, 
who have strength to tread them, courage to win them, 
and no weakling scruples as to how they hold them.' 

As the Count spoke in quick, low tones, one or two 
men entered ; others, their smokes over, walked out, 
while, mingling with his words, the music came 
floating from above. 

As one in a dream, Orloff listened. Then, as the 
Count stopped, he roused himself, saying with a 
certain air of surprise : 

' I didn't know you had any influence at St. Peters- 

'Two years ago I had just enough to escape 
Siberia,' replied the Eussian coolly. ' To-day, as you 
suppose, I have, personally, none.' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


' Then, what did you mean just now?' asked Orloff 

' Just what I said/ retorted the Count coldly. ' For 
me the life is impracticable ; with you it is different. 
You are young, strong, and a soldier; I, as your 
mend, but point out to you a career where you will 
find unlimited scope for your ambition. Further, I 
offer to interest myself in your behalf. For, though I 
am powerless with the Czar, I still have friends who, 
to oblige the man who acted as a scapegoat for their 
sins, would be glad to help on his protege.' 

' It is a splendid future for a Bussian, Zenski,' said 
Orloff almost regretfully, ' but I am an Australian.' 

Satisfied that he had interested him, and well aware 
that his one hope of eventual success lay in Heather 
Cameron's utter perfidy, the Count left his bread to 
the waters of chance. 

' Pardon,' he replied ; ' for the moment I forgot that 
little fact, my dear Philip.' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

[ 12] 



On the night after the ball, Heather Cameron sat in a 
deck-chair looking out on the starlit water. Scattered 
about the deck or lounging against the railings, groups 
of passengers discussed the dance with animation 
born of narrow surroundings and poverty of incident ; 
but the girl took no part nor any seeming interest in 
their chatter. 

Flanked on either side by the wife and daughter of 
an Australian potentate who had made a fortune and 
bought a title by aid of his celebrated £5 cases, Count 
Zenski sat listening with polite resignation to the 
Knight himself. 

Thus surrounded, the unhappy Russian was hearing 
for about the hundredth time how the Baggs family 
had been presented at Court, and on what singularly 
familiar terms the male Bagg chanced to be with a 
bewildering company of Dukes and such-like. 

Just when Zenski had decided to escape, even, if 
need be, over the body of his tormentor, aid arrived 
in the persons of Orloff and Heather's father. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


'They are waiting for us, Count,' said Cameron, 
stopping in front of the group, 

' Ah, our rubber !' exclaimed the Eussian. ' Sir 
John and ladies, this is most annoying, but these 
whist-players are inexorable. Can I say more than 
that the loss is mine ?' 

Bowing, he walked away with Cameron, while 
Orloff moved on and dropped into a seat from which 
unnoticed he could observe Heather. 

Where she sat, a lamp cast a soft radiance on the 
coils of yellow hair that rested upon her shapely head 
like a woven coronal. Her hazel eyes, looking out 
from the dead whiteness of her face, scintillated with 
the brilliance of cunningly-set stones ; but her hands 
lay listless and inert on the long arms of her chair. 
Not yet eighteen, she had spent the last five years of 
her life at school in England, and was now returning 
with her father to keep house on the station where 
she was born, and to which she was the only heir. 
During the five months she had spent in London 
before returning to the Bush, Philip Orloff, also 
engaged in a short holiday, had met her. To both 
love was then an unknown quantity, but while in her 
case it still in some sort remained one, with the strong 
man of twenty-six it was not so. His heart, till then 
asleep, woke in the presence of this tall, sun-crowned 
child, and out of her hazel eyes read a message writ 
by God, all unknown to herself. And so he loved her, 
not for her character, for it had yet to grow ; not for 
her graces, for they had yet to bloom ; not because she 
loved him, for as yet love was to her a sealed book, of 
whose contents she had but faint imaginations ; and 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


not, again, for any of those cunning fantasies with 
which men strive to render love logical, but simply 
because she was his kindred soul, set apart for all 
time as his alone. Gradually in the weeks that 
followed his hand broke the seal of the book she 
carried fearfully, and page by page, little by little, he 
read to her its message. And as he read she caught 
it, at first dimly as a flute played on distant hills, then 
sonorous as the notes of a time-mellowed organ, Love's 
grand, immortal anthem. So her soul awoke, but, as 
befitted a child, full of wonder and mantled with a 
tender fear. 

On shipboard, cut off from the multifarious dis- 
tractions of the great city, Heather turned more and 
more towards Orloff, the strong, but as yet latent, 
forces within her instinctively attracted by the man's 
potent individuality. 

Nothing had interfered to check the growth of an 
admiration which promised later to develop into a 
passion worthy of his own, until the night spoken of 
by Orloff to Zenski. 

From the first Harden had certainly paid her con- 
siderable attention, but as in this regard he appeared 
thoroughly cosmopolitan, Orloff, too generous to 
harbour the petty jealousy of a weaker man, felt no 

On a particular evening earlier in the voyage the 
conversation had turned on will-power, and after 
several had attempted with more or less success to 
perform the stock-feats common to such gatherings, 
Harden took the subjects in hand. In his case 
success attended nearly every effort, Heather 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Cameron in particular appearing, at least to Orloff, 
a singularly pliant hypnotic. Accounting for his 
success by the fact that he had the good fortune to 
practise on minds rendered peculiarly susceptible by 
the former experiments, Harden laughingly admitted 
his inability to perform any save the most elementary 
tests of the science. None the less, Orloff felt that 
the man believed more in his power than he wished 
others to do. Since then, though Harden had given 
no further exhibitions of his art, Orloff began to regard 
him with an aversion almost amounting to fear ; for 
while unable to in any way prove it, he felt that the 
man was gradually exerting a strange, unaccountable 
influence over the woman he loved. 

Harden, whatever he might have thought, affected 
not to notice the change. 

To Orloff, Heather's manner grew daily more in- 
comprehensible. Gradually the strong vitality of 
youth began to give place to slow and lingering 
movements. Her eyes, once filled with a questioning 
light of the newly-awakened, now wore the puzzled, 
fearful expression of a being haunted by an unseen 
yet ever-present mystery. To him she in one sense 
seemed to cling more than ever, and yet between 
their lives he was conscious of the rise of an im- 
palpable while impassable barrier. 

Not that all this happened at once. In point of 
fact, its growth was so gradual, that he had never 
properly realized it until the night of the ball. Now, 
sitting watching Heather, he felt that he had not 
guarded as he should this soul given into his hands 
to guide and cherish; that while he stood by with 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


idle hands, its splendid possibilities were perhaps 
being rendered inoperative for all time. 

He half rose, but again sank back. After all, what 
grounds had he for such a surmise ? Then, as the 
memory of Harden's exhibition of power over her at 
the ball rose before him, he threw all doubts aside, 
and walked over to where the girl sat gazing out upon 
the sea. 

' A penny for your thoughts, Heather/ he said. 

As the girl turned towards him, he was conscious 
that her eyes filled with a look of relief. Getting no 
reply, he went on : 

' Where have you been hidden all day ?' 

' I have been lying down,' she answered wearily. 

' Why, you look half asleep now !' 

* Do 1 7 I seem always tired here. I wish we were 
in Sydney.' 

Then, appearing to rouse herself with an effort, she 
said : 

* I hope you enjoyed yourself last night ?' 
Astonished by the coolness of the remark, in face 

of her treatment of him, Orloff stared at her in silence. 
Had she been an ordinary acquaintance, such a calm 
shelving of the question would have been irritating 
enough; to be so ignored by Heather was simply 

'Why do you stare at me like that?' she asked 
peevishly, as he made no reply. 

' Considering what happened, I wonder you ask.' 

' What do you mean ?' 

' Heather, this is unworthy of you. Treat me as a 
dog if .you will, but not like a fool !' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Glancing at him in utter astonishment, the girl 
faltered : 

' Don't look like that, Philip. How was I to know 
my question would annoy you ?' Then, as he looked 
moodily into her eyes, she added, with childish anger : 
' I won't be treated like a schoolgirl. Go away ; I 
did not ask you to come.' 

Nonplussed by a manner so utterly unlike her own, 
and shocked at the littleness displayed by her affecta- 
tion of ignorance, Orloff determined to end the matter 
one way or the other. 

' Why did you give Harden my dance,' he asked, 
' and leave me standing like a fool, without even a 
word of explanation?' 

Watching her keenly as he spoke, he noticed with 
a certain feeling of dread a look of utter wonder in 
her eyes. 

' Whatever are you talking about ?' she asked. 

* Do you mean to tell me you don't remember ?' 

' How can you expect me to remember what never 
happened ?' she answered in a puzzled voice. 

' Heather, for God's sake, think !' exclaimed Orloff, 
bending towards her. ' You were sitting in that chair. 
I was standing beside you. As the music began you 
rose, and put your hand on my arm — so. Then you 
lyithdrew it. Harden stepped up and claimed you ; 
and then, although my name was on your programme, 
as I explained, you walked away with that man, and 
left me without a word, without a look !' 

As he spoke, the girl listened with parted lips. Once 
Qr twice some faint glimmer of remembrance seemed to 
shoot across her brain. Then only surprise remained. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


i You are dreaming,' she said absently. ' Do you 
think I would treat you like that for Mr. Harden, or 
any other man ?' 

Like a flash it struck him she was either mad or 
under some potent spell. 

' Heather,' he asked with deep intensity, * what 
power has this man Harden gained over you ? For 
my sake, for your own, tell me.' 

At the mention of the name, she again appeared 
struck by some faint remembrance, but it passed as 

* Why do you ask me such a stupid question ? 
Surely you are not jealous ?' she exclaimed. 

Comforted by the strain of reproach in her voice, 
but still unable to account for her strange loss of 
memory as to what had happened the night before, he 
asked : 

' Has this man ever put you under the same influ- 
ence he used that night when he hypnotized you in 
the saloon ? Think well, child, for God's sake !' 

Again the puzzled look came into her eyes, but at 
last she replied : 

' No, Philip.' 

i Promise me that you will never allow him,' he 
pleaded, taking the white, listless fingers in his. 

'Of course I won't, Philip, if you don't wish it,' 
she answered softly. 

Then, carried away by a passionate desire to guard 
her as only a husband could, he poured anew into her 
ears the story of his deep, strong devotion. 

Powerless to resist an appeal backed up by the 
wakening desires of her own heart, the girl listened 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


to his pleading. At last, in rugged, manly fashion, 
he asked her to marry him when they reached 
Colombo. But even as her lips moved to reply, she 
lifted her eyes, and the word died away in a low, 
inarticulate murmur. 

* Darling, your answer !' murmured Orloff passion- 
ately. ' You love me ; why hesitate ?' 

Still no reply came through her white lips. 
' For God's sake, don't say I've deceived myself ! 
Heather, you love me ?' 

Eising, she shook her head, and, waving him aside, 
moved quickly past him. As he turned to follow, he 
. saw they were not alone. Facing him stood Henry 
Harden, with Heather at his side. 
With clenched fist Orloff stepped towards them. 
' You love me, Heather ?* said Harden. 
' I love you,' she answered, in a strange, expression- 
less voice. 

' Heather, this is madness !' began Orloff, stretching 
out his hand towards the girl. 

* Kindly remember we are not the only people on 
deck/ remarked Harden with a mocking smile. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 




During Orloffs conversation with Heather, the other 
occupants of the deck had gradually disappeared, 
driven to the shelter of the music-room and saloon by 
the mist which now drifted like a shroud over the sea. 
As Harden spoke, Zenski and Cameron came towards 
the group. 

' I've been looking everywhere for you, Heather,' 
said her father irritably. * Orloff, you should know 
better than to keep her up on such a night.' 

'I fear I am partly to blame,' interposed Harden, 
picking up her cloak and throwing it over her 
shoulders. ' However, if Miss Cameron will help me, I 
will sing you " Scots wha hae "as a peace-offering, 

' All right,' laughed the easy-going squatter ; 
* I don't suppose any harm's done, so come on, 

Declining the invitation, Orloff stood watching them 
till they disappeared. 

' Mon ami, you look irritated — try a cigar.' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


' Thanks,' replied Philip shortly. ' Why don't you 
go with them ?' 

' Ah, you are both ungrateful and brutal !' exclaimed 

' Pardon me, I thought you came with Cameron.' 

' And if I did, is that any reason why I should go 
with him to listen to the barbarous war-song of the 
Scotch ?' 

Just then a gust of wind swept the mist in a fine 
shower in their faces. 

' Come into the smoking-room,' gasped the Count. 
' To smoke in such an atmosphere is a sacrilege.' 

* You are right. Don't wait for me, Count.' 

* Not so, my friend ; if you will stop, so will I,' 
retorted Zenski, fearful into whose hands he might fall 
if without Philip. ' But in heaven's name let me get 
out of this wind.' He moved off. 

Following him, Orloff threw himself into a seat. 

' You are bad company to-night, Philip,' murmured 
the Eussian, as the other smoked on in silence. ' Is 
it an affair of the liver or the heart ? If of the former, 
hesitate not to make me your confidant.' 

1 1 am all right, thank you.' 

' Then why, my poor friend, do you look all wrong ? 
You English are so topsy-turvy.' 

* I am not English,' retorted Orloff savagely. ' Curse 

'And why?. Because one from "perfide Albion" 
has, as my oppressive comrade Baggs would say, 
" put your nose out of joint " ?' grinned the Count. 

* Don't play the fool, Zenski !' said Orloff ; ' what 
right have you to pry into my affairs ?' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


' Pardon,' retorted the Russian coolly ; ' you forget 
that you have already made me in some sort your 

* You are right,' replied Orloff bitterly ; ' and the 
doubts I then spoke to you of have become certainties. 
To-night I have seen this man exert his cursed 

For a little the older man remained silent, then 
' If I may ask, in what manner ?' 

* Zenski,' exclaimed Philip, moved by that impulse 
to speak of his trouble which comes at some time or 
other to all men, ' for all your cynicism, I believe you 
are my friend. To-night I asked this woman to 
marry me.' 

' Mon Dieu/ 1 murmured his listener. 

' By the light in her eyes, by the tender inflection 
of her voice, I knew she was mine ; then, as her lips 
moved, they became cold, and without a word she left 
me. Turning to follow, I saw her standing beside 
Harden. "You love me," the devil said; and she 
replied in a voice expressionless as that of one repeat* 
ing a lesson, " I love you." I swear she was no free 
agent, yet what can I do ? She has no remembrance 
of the spells this man easts over her.' 

' That is a defect common under certain conditions 
to all her charming sex, as you will discover later, my 
friend,' interposed Zenski sententiously. 

Unheeding the interruption, Orloff went on : 

* Distrusting Harden as I do, I feel that her father 
should be warned ; and yet the subject, situated as I 
am, is so delicate that I fear he may misunderstand.' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


* He would most certainly misunderstand. A man 
who trumps his partner's tricks four times in one 
night, and then excuses his perfidy by saying he is 
thinking about the rise in wool, is too wanting in 
every sense of right to grasp your most interesting 

' Theory ! Man, it is a terrible reality !' 

'Even so, what then? Your rival says to the 
woman you have just asked to be your wife, "You 
love me?" "I love you," she makes answer. You 
say it is a spell. What more is all love ? My friend, 
I myself was once so diseased. One day she mistook 
another man for me, and married him. Mon Dieu, I 
am glad of it !' 

' Zenski, I can't let this girl go out of my life with 
your cold, damnable philosophy. Her love has grown 
into my being until it has become part of me.' 

4 The science of surgery lays down that all growths 
foreign to the body must be removed before the 
patient regains perfect health,' retorted Zenski slowly. 
'Philip, what folly is all this, and for a girl un- 
formed, a child as likely to become commonplace as 
not; why render yourself absurd, striving after the 
improbable? Believe one who has known many 
women, seen the sordidness of their passions, the 
vastness of their betrayals; they are not worth 

'You speak of the outcasts of humanity, the 
wretched spies whose existence Bussian tyranny has 
rendered possible,' retorted Orloff hotly. ' Surely to 
God you don't compare this pure, fresh girl with such 
as they V 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


' 1 speak about what I know/ replied Zenski calmly. 
'As toys, they are admirable; as stepping-stones, 
often swift, but generally treacherous; taken au 
sirieux, they are impracticable. Good-night, Philip. 
Bemember, the successful soldier saves all his worship 
for the shrine of ambition.' 

Left to himself, Philip Orloff sat looking out into 
the dark, wind-swept space that stretched beyond the 
narrow rays of the electric lamps. 

Much as he hated Zenski's cold-blooded summing- 
up, he still had to admit that in one respect the 
cynical Eussian had put his finger on his own posi- 
tion. Love with him was serious and impracticable* 
More convinced than ever of Harden's power, he yet 
failed to see how he could provide an antidote. To 
denounce the man could only end in ridicule, if 
nothing worse, while to warn Heather appeared even 
more hopeless, looked at in the light of her inability 
to remember what occurred during her hypnotic sleep. 
Maddened by the consciousness of his utter helpless- 
ness, he experienced the sensation of a man who, 
bound and gagged, watches the approach of the 
engine that must inevitably crush him. In his case, 
however, the agony was even more intense, for he had 
to stand idly by and gaze, not only on the ruin of his 
own life, but on the possible wreck of Heather's as 
well. For, judged by his standard of honour, the 
man who would stoop to win a woman by the practice 
of a power such as that possessed by Harden, was of 
all men the most unlikely to satisfy when once the 
Awakening took place. 

Weary at length with its futile endeavour to work 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


out a plan of escape, Orloff s brain sought a temporary 

Freed from its unnatural tension, it naturally turned 
to the central idea of his life before Heather came 
into it. So, tramping up and down the wet, deserted 
decks, Zenski's picture of a soldier's chances rose 
before him. 

Born in a* land possessing little real individuality, 
and, indeed, in most things slavishly imitative of 
England, Orloff, like most of his fellow-countrymen, 
possessed little of that intense, if selfish, love of 
country common to peoples who have created an in- 
dependent force in the world. 

That, if need be, he would fight to defend his birth- 
place was true. But he had yet to learn that it was 
the only place worth fighting for, or for which a man 
can kill his fellow-men without becoming a murderer. 

For the present, his chief ambition was to excel as 
a soldier, and the more he thought it out, the less did 
this appear practicable in Australia. 

Zenski was right : active service alone meant his 

Possessed of about as much loyalty as his comrades 
who had rushed to the Soudan ostensibly to aid the 
mother-country, but in reality because they wanted 
to smell powder, Orloff felt few scruples as to which 
flag he followed. And now that his hopes of love 
seemed drifting to certain wreck, a strong repugnance 
for the comparative inactivity of Brisbane barrack life 
took hold of him. 

Love gone, what use had he for idleness, save to 
mourn its loss ? And could he sit down like a puling 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


child to weep after this perished thing? The thought 
was madness. That he would never wholly forget he 
realized even now, but in the arms of ambition he 
might gain temporary oblivion, and if not, on the field 
of battle a soldier's death. 

Carried away by his thoughts, he had taken no heed 
of time ; but now, pulling out his watch, he noticed 
that all the deck-lights were turned off. Seeing a 
reflection on the skylight of one of the inner cabins, 
he walked towards it, and, stooping, he held the dial 
of his watch close to the glass. Then, remembering 
it was Harden's cabin, his eyes, impelled by a sudden 
fascination, looked down into the brilliantly-lighted 

Suddenly brought in contact with the light, Orloff 
at first looked only on two ghostly forms, shadowy 
and indistinct. Then, as the mantle of darkness fell 
from before his vision, he saw a figure wrapped in 
white draperies move swiftly across the narrow room. 
With no wantonness of passion, but rather as one who 
treads the vales of sleep, the woman walked on to 
where, imperious yet eager, Harden stood ; and now, 
no longer blinded by the electric rays, Orloff saw that 
it was Heather. 

For a moment he stared as though turned into 
stone, then his teeth crunched through the amber, 
and his pipe fell with a crash on the glass. White 
and trembling, he staggered into the darkness. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

[2 7 ] 



Philip Orloff sat in his cabin, waiting. 

His black, disordered hair looked strangely dull 
this morning, and the lines about his mouth and 
under his heavy eyes were deep as those of an old 
man, for the devil we all have locked up in us had 
been struggling to get loose through the long night 
hours. Orloff had forced him back, but the effort had 
wearied him. With a strong man's egotism he 
thought he had conquered, but the devil did not : he 
only laughed to himself and waited. 

After that glance when hope rolled like a parched- 
up scroll from before his eyes, his first impulse had 
been one of instant revenge. But on his road to con- 
summate it, reason regained its sway, and he turned 
into his own cabin. In the dread vigil that followed 
he had reviewed the whole situation. Strong in his 
belief in Heather, he recognised that the guiltless 
must not suffer in order that he might punish the 
guilty, and, facing with merciless self-abnegation 
every possibility, he finally decided to give Harden 
one chance, and if he declined it, to force him into a 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


duel, which could only have one ending. That he 
might be the one to fall, he recognised ; yet, richly 
as the man deserved it, he could not bring himself to 
kill him in cold blood. 

Morning came at last, and he rang and ordered his 
cabin-steward to tell Harden he wished to see him, 
and tired of all things, angry with God and hating 
man, he sat and waited. At last he pulled out his 
watch, only to put it back impatiently. The man he 
had sent for seldom breakfasted before ten, and it was 
now only a few minutes past nine. 

Listlessly picking up a book that lay near his hand, 
he began turning over the leaves. What was written 
on them had no interest for him, he did not even take 
the trouble to read the words. Still, when he came 
to an uncut page, habit prompted him to rise and take 
from the shelf an antique dagger with a blade about 
six inches long, which he always used as a paper- 
knife. He had bought it at a curiosity shop in 
Naples, partly through the importunity of its Jewish 
vendor, but principally because a powerful magnet let 
into the hilt caught his fancy. He slipped the blade 
through the paper, and laid the stiletto down beside 
him as Harden walked in. 

* What the deuce is up, old chap — off colour, eh ?' 
inquired the visitor with rather forced gaiety. ' Some 
lark on?' 

' No. I merely wished to ask you a question/ 
replied Orloff in a hard, dry voice. 

* Devilish small provocation for dragging a fellow 
down here,' laughed Harden, dropping into a chair. 
' Well, fire away — what is it ?' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


For a little Orloff looked at him, then said slowly : 

' Do you intend to marry Miss Cameron 7 

At the words a startled look came into the man's 
shifting, restless eyes. Then, apparently satisfied, he 
replied : 

'What business is it of yours, whether I do or 

' I have decided to make it my business, so answer 

At first an angry retort trembled on Harden's lips ; 
then, thinking better of it, he replied : 

' Don't be absurd, Orloff ! If the girl prefers me, 
surely that is her affair ; you heard what she said last 

' You forced her to say it,' retorted Philip quietly. 

' My dear fellow, what humbug !' laughed Harden, 
encouraged by the other's calm, ' Women are " kittle 
cattle " ; she happens to prefer me to you— devilish 
bad taste on her part, I admit, but, still, as I said 
before, that is her affair.' 

' Admitting what you say to be true, you haven't 
answered my question. Do you mean to make her 
your wife ?' 

' Ton my word, I haven't thought about it.' 

' Haven't thought of it 7 interposed Orloff savagely. 

' No ; you see a fellow must do something to amuse 
himself on board ship, and she's a devilish nice little 
girl and all that. Still, you know, marriage is alto- 
gether a different affair. But, d— it all, Orloff, this 
has gone far enough.' 

' It has gone too far for you to draw back, like this, 
you shuffling cur !* retorted Philip sternly. ' How 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


dared you, in my presence, force the girl to say she 
loved you, unless you meant to marry her ?' 

'Don't try me too far,' replied Harden, his eyes 
flashing with passion ; then, alarmed by the other's 
look, he added, * I knew you were jealous of the girl, 
and I only did it for a joke*' 

' Liar !' retorted Orloff ; ' you admit your power.' 
Stung by the epithet, Harden sprang to his feet. 

* You jealous fool !' he exclaimed ; * believe what 
you like, but don't think I mean to stop here to be 
bullied by you !' 

' Stop where you are,' growled Orloff, forcing him 
back in his seat, * and listen to me ! Are you prepared 
to marry Heather Cameron when we reach Colombo ? 
By God, I will have an answer before you leave this 

Silently the two men glared into each other's eyes. 
Helpless as a child, Harden suddenly thought of a 
way of escape. 

* What if I say no ?' he asked, anxious to gain time. 
' You must fight me when we reach land,' retorted 

Orloff grimly. 'And, remember, I will make no 
mistake if you do.' 

As he spoke, Harden saw that he had him in his 
power. Struggling against the other's will, Orloff rose 
erect with an effort. 

Still holding him with his eyes, Harden stood 
before him. 

' Curse you ! I'll do neither !' he hissed, with malig- 
nant triumph ; ' I mean to amuse myself with her till 
she bores me. Then you can have her, and welcome.' 

For an instant Philip seemed to regain command 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


of himself, but, pointing to the couch, Harden com- 
manded him to sit down. 

Powerless and inert, Orloff sank back. As he did 
so, his hand fell on the dagger-hilt that stuck out 
from between the leaves of the book. 

Instinctively clutching it, a magnetic thrill passed 
through his body, and, springing to his feet, he drove 
it with the strength of madness into the heart of the 

With a weird, inarticulate cry, Harden sank back in 
his seat. 

Staring at the helpless mass that sat huddled in 
the chair before him, Orloff took no notice of the 
opening of his door. Stepping noiselessly in, Zenski 
lifted the head that lolled forward. 

'Ah, Monsieur Harden!' he exclaimed. 'Poor 
devil ! what wonderful creatures are the women !' 

* He tried his cursed tricks on me, and I stabbed 
him,' said Orloff coldly; and throwing aside the 
dagger with a gesture of repulsion, he asked : ' Is he 

'As mutton, to use the simile of my excellent 
friend Cameron/ retorted Zenski, locking the door. 

' What are you doing that for Y asked Orloff. ' The 
doctor must be sent for at once.' 

'It is a useless exertion.' 

' Still, they must take this thing away,' insisted 

' All in good time. But first I would have a little 
chat with you. May I smoke Y 

' Heavens, man, how can you talk of chatting here?' 

' Why not ? — our friend will, I am sure, be discretion 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


itself. But to be serious, Philip; we may not have 
another chance. Why you have killed this man I 
don't know. Doubtless your reasons were excellent. 
But, unfortunately, the pig-headed authorities will 
fail to recognise them. I hate to be brutal to a man 
I respect ; but, to be brusque, they will hang you.' 

At the words the young man's cheek paled, but he 
replied firmly: 'I am prepared to accept the con- 
sequences of my act.' 

* What, for a gaillard like that !' retorted Zenski. 
* But time is short — I would save you from yourself. 
I was your father's friend : you are mine. But more 
than this, you are too useful to dangle from the end 
of a rope.' 

' It is a degrading death,' said Orloff bitterly ; ' but 
it must be faced.' 

* Not so,' replied the Bussian, bending forward and 
putting a proposition before the other in his own 
language. 'Agree to this, and I pledge my honour 
you shall escape. A Bussian warship is in the bay ; 
money will buy your way out of a stouter prison than 
this ; and once free, a servant of the Czar has little 
to fear in the East. Quick ! your answer ? A diplo- 
matist may hesitate, not so a soldier.' 

'I will do it,' said Orloff coldly. 'I can't bring 
myself to die for ridding the world of such a miscreant.' 

Picking up a pack of cards, Zenski scattered them 
over the floor. Then, ringing the bell, he said to the 
steward : ' Present Count Zenski's compliments, and 
tell the captain he is wanted immediately.' 

Sitting on the couch, Philip remained silent. 
Presently footsteps again approached, and bowing to 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


the officer who now stood in the doorway, Zenski said : 
* At my friend Mr. Orloffs request, I have to inform 
you that he has had the ill-fortune to stab Mr. Harden 
during a dispute over a game of ecart6.' 


Late that night the mail-steamer entered the 
harbour of Colombo with Philip Orloff a prisoner in 
his own cabin. 

When, however, on the following morning the 
officer of the watch made his rounds, he found the 
sentinel missing from his post and the cabin empty. 
Both had disappeared, leaving no trace. 

Next morning the Genoa sailed for Australia, leaving 
Harden in the palm-shaded cemetery, powerless and 
unavenged, for his destroyer had vanished. 

* Where do you think the ruffian has gone, Count ?' 
remarked Sir John Baggs as the island sank into the 

' To the devil, mon ami' retorted Zenski with a 
weary shrug as he lit a fresh cigar. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 






On a June morning of the year 1954, while the streets 
of Sydney are full of rain and umbrellas, in hotel 
bars, or crouching against the veranda-sheltered 
walls of sporting hotels, cunning-eyed, hard-faced 
men discussed the all-important question of whether 
the Grand National would be run or not. 

Cowering under one of the arches of the Lyceum, 
a wretched, pallid-faced woman droned in a weary, 
ceaseless monotone the virtues of a bundle of laces 
that hung limp and unalluring on her outstretched 
arm. A gust of wind hurrying down the narrow 
street eddied and drove the thin, draggled print dress 
against her shivering limbs with wanton devilry ; but 
the men, heedless of the woman's tuneless plaint, 
hastened to swell the crowd that stood about the 
costly temple of the Goddess of Chance. Was she 
too respectable or too objectionable for the pity of 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


humanity? Possibly both: civilization can forgive 
anything except a poverty that offends the eye. 

Dodging among the nondescript mass who now 
blocked the pavement in front of TattersalTs, a wizened, 
barefooted gutter-snipe drove a brisk trade in race 
cards : his wares were more up-to-date. So was 
their cigarette-smoking, foul-mouthed vendor. Man- 
kind is still full of a certain careless generosity for the 
quick-tongued, evil-hearted imps of their own creation. 
Later on, when they are old enough to be dangerous, 
they generally hang them. 

In * the Booms ' opinion was divided. Some held 
that the * going would be right enough.' These last 
were, as a rule, men who had laid against the * pots/ 
and who, not having to risk their necks over the 
fences, exhibited strong indignation at the proposed 
delay. At last the bell rang, and after a few seconds 
at the telephone, the secretary announced that the 
meeting had been postponed. Quickly the news 
spread to the street, and gradually the waiting 
assemblage of ' sports ' melted away into bars and 

Apparently satisfied with its morning's work, the 
rain had ceased. Following the stream, three men 
drifted out of the rooms and into the vestibule. 
Having lit cigars, they stood talking to a member of 
the ring, who chanced to be making his way up- 

' Can I book you another monkey, Mr. Hatten ?' 
queried the layer of odds. * They tell me your mare 
can't miss it — bar accidents.' 

* That's just the devil of it,' replied Dick Hatten 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


anxiously; 'if this rain keeps on it's anybody's 

' Nonsense ! why, it's just into your hands ; she's 
fit, and likes mud as well as the best of them.' 

' That's right enough,' answered Dick doubtfully ; 
' but how long are they going to ask me to keep her 

'About three weeks, I guess, from the look of it,' 
grinned a wiry-looking, sun-tanned man standing 
beside Hatten. 

* Now, Mr. Johnson, don't you be spoiling business,' 
laughed the bookmaker. 

'Better take the monkey, sir; she's bound to 

' No thanks, Cohen ; if I want any more I'll see you 
in the paddock.' 

' Very good, sir ; recollect, it'll be level money, and 
not too much at that.' 

' If you have ended, let us go,' observed a short, 
well-set-up man, whose white moustache and buttoned 
frock-coat gave him a certain military air. 

' Eight you are, Count,' said Hatten. ' Come on, 

As they stepped into the street, the woman with the 
laces, like themselves, set free by the stoppage of the 
rain, held out her sorry barter for life with wistful, 
shrinking importunity. 

Pulling a coin from his pocket, Hatten put it in her 
hand, muttering apologetically as they walked away : 
' Poor devil ! she looked infernally cold.' 

' Mon Dieu ! you are a funny race,' grinned Zenski. 
' You waste a fortune on messieurs the " books," and 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


then you apologize for giving a starving woman one 


' I suppose you have got your bit on Io, Count ?' 

said Johnson, as they entered the Australia. 

' With all due apologies to my friend here, I have 

my " bit " on that which with delightful naivete you 
name the selling race.' 

' Why, they are dead swindles,' exclaimed Johnson. 
* You never get more than one trier for your money in 
one of those saddle-flaps.' 

* In that lies the beauty of these races. I find out 
which is the animal on which the saddle does not flap. 
Then I smoke nay cigar in peace. I prefer the horse 
which cannot lose to the grand animal which should 
have won. But I must write, so au revoir. We meet at 

Turning into the smoking-room, Hatten and 
Johnson began ior about the hundredth time to win 
the Grand "National. With both it was a subject of 
absorbing interest, for one of them it was a matter of 
vital importance ; for while Johnson felt, as a sports- 
man and a Queenslander, the keenest sympathy with 
the only Northern representative in the race, his com- 
panion, apart from his wish to win, had risked all he 
had in the world on the result of the steeplechase. 

Known from Port Darwin to Brisbane, Hatten had 
come to be regarded as the Admirable Crichton of 
the North. Creations of his skill with pencil and 
charcoal looked down from the walls of countless 
smoking-rooms; his verses were sung round camp 
fires from Port Darwin to Cobar ; and tales of his 
feats, both over fences and on the backs of buck- 

Digitized by VjOOQlC 


jumpers, were as household words in the Great Lone 
Land of Australia. That he would some day do great 
things was for ever prophesied. His dark, sun-bronzed 
face, with its deep-set, penetrating gray eyes, some- 
what aquiline nose, and resolute chin, betokened Jatent 
force. His useful height and natural hardness of 
condition, brought to absolute perfection by constant 
saddle work, gave hostages for the success of .any feat 
he set his heart on accomplishing. In all things the 
fates seemed propitious, but still the hard fact re- 
mained that Dick never seemed to get on.' He had 
done most things, and had done them well, but, 
success achieved, he seemed to tire, and just when 
duller men began, with tender care, to move along the 
ball, at last come to their feet, Dick kicked it to the 
devil and started after another. 

About a year ago a new force had come into his life. 
Isis Downs had long been a camping-ground of his, 
its owner, Angus Cameron, and Ted Johnson, his 
manager, both being old friends. By that part of 
the world who held that Dick was a stanch believer 
in the statement that it was criminal for a man to be 
half an hour in the presence of a woman without 
making love to her, Edith Enson, the daughter of 
Cameron's housekeeper, was quoted as the real load- 
stone which drew him to the Downs. 

In this it was wrong. That Dick had played at the 
game of flirtation with the girl was probable enough. 
He was usually playful. But in his case it was 
certainly not for ' keeps.' 

When, however, Heather Cameron came back to the 
station, Dick met his Waterloo. At first he was rather 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


bored with this tall, self-possessed girl with hair like 
the reflection of a setting sun on a leaden cloud, and 
hazel eyes full of searching light. She had such an 
irritating way of saying nothing. In her presence 
he began to realize that he was an utter fraud, and, 
what was worse, he more than suspected that she 
had arrived at the same conclusion. Acting on this 
supposition, Dick, with a successful man's vanity, en- 
deavoured to set himself right with her. In striving 
to accomplish this he succeeded in interesting her, 
and, fired by her attitude of masterly though un- 
conscious inactivity, fell deeply in love himself. 
Under the influence of the first real passion of his 
life, Hatten, accustomed to succeed when he wanted 
to, now began once more to look after the ill-used 
ball he had so often had at his foot only to kick into 
the limbo of human failures. Nominally he was a 
squatter, but as the possession of a small cattle-run 
on the B,oper Hiver, already mortgaged to a Sydney 
Pastoral Financial Company up to what they con- 
sidered its full value, presented few if any possibilities, 
Dick cast round for something more tangible. Here, 
once more, Pate seemed to hold out a straw; and, 
with characteristic belief in his lucky star, he deter- 
mined to grasp it. At a sale of yearlings in Sydney 
five years ago, he had picked up ' for a song ' a clean- 
bred, likely-looking filly. As the youngster ' furnished ' 
in the forcing climate of the North, Dick conceived the 
idea from her general appearance that he had got 
hold of an ideal * chaser.' A ' flutter ' which he gave 
her when two years old relieved his mind as to her 
pace, and from then till she was five he never let her 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


face a starter's flag. In the meantime, however, he 
had taught her all he knew about jumping, and from 
constantly handling her himself had got her as 
tractable as a dog. As a five-year-old she began her 
career over timber, and, in justification of her owner's 
opinion and patience, carried his black jacket and 
scarlet cap to almost unbroken victory from Nor- 
manton to Brisbane. 

Making allowance for money lost during the meet- 
ing, Dick was still a few hundred pounds on the right 
side after winning the Brisbane * double.' Io was fit 
and well, and entered for the Grand National, now 
only about six weeks off, so, determined to follow up 
his good fortune, he finally decided to bring the mare 
to Sydney. 

'I wish you had given her a "fly" for the 
"double," ' muttered Johnson regretfully, as he threw 
away a cigar-butt and began to fill his pipe. 'As 
usual, they haven't bothered to send anything really 
first-class from Melbourne, and half these local screws 
look like broken-down cab-horses.' 

'I don't like doubles,' retorted Dick sententiously ; 
' the " books " are too sweet in laying them. Besides, 
Heaven knows what they might slop on me for a win 
under the new rules.' 

' You could walk in on a buck-board.' 

* Don't be too sure of that, Ted ; it's easy to be 
king in one's own backyard. But, hang it all ! look 
at the time ; we must run up and tell Miss Cameron 
the races are put off.' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

[ 4i ] 



* Surely they will not race to-day ?' 

The speaker — a tall, white -skinned woman with 
hair of gold — rose as she spoke and walked to the 

The child, unformed alike in mind and body, who 
nine years before had brought to Philip Orloff the 
unwritten message of the gods, had now developed 
both mentally and physically into a fit companion for 
a lover such as he. 

' Of course they will !' exclaimed a smartly-dressed 
brunette. 'The wretches never think of us. My 
dream of a frock is born to blush unseen in that 
stupid stand.' 

'Ted can admire it, dear,' murmured Heather 
Cameron a little mischievously ; then, turning from 
the window, she dropped into a chair and, taking a 
racing-cap from the table, added : 'Do let me try this 
on you, Edith. It will not go right.' 

Kneeling beside her friend, Edith Enson bent her 
dark head obediently, saying carelessly : 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


* Ted indeed ! Why, his tastes don't soar above a 
horse-cloth !' 

While the two girls were talking, the third occupant 
of the room — a stout, well-preserved old lady — sat 
hidden from view by the morning paper. 

Mrs. Enson was a widow, her late husband having 
been a partner of Cameron's in the good old days. 
Unfortunately, the want of character which had tended 
to make of his wife a model British matron had a de- 
cidedly opposite effect in the case of John Enson. 
Finding his wife absolutely colourless, and conse- 
quently woefully conventional, her husband first 
chafed under her unimpeachable respectability, and 
then somewhat illogically drank himself to death; 
but before he died Enson succeeded in establishing a 
reputation as a jolly good fellow, and in common 
with every member of that selfish, and in many 
instances utterly contemptible, fraternity, left his wife 
and baby-girl little by which to remember him save 
his debts. About this time Cameron, through the 
loss of his own wife, found himself in pressing need 
of someone to look after his own little daughter. For 
the sake of the old partnership he offered the position 
to Mrs. Enson, and ever since she had controlled the 
domestic destinies of Isis Downs. Growing up together, 
the two girls — Heather and Edith — though widely 
apart as the poles in disposition, became more like 
sisters than many who boast that tie; while in all 
things save in actual relationship Mrs. Enson filled 
the place of Heather's dead mother. Somewhat con- 
ventional himself, the squatter held the old lady in 
the highest esteem as a model woman, and, if people 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


were to be believed, the daughter when she married 
would not be forgotten by her father's one-time mate. 

As Edith began her somewhat contemptuous sum- 
ming-up of her lover's tastes, her mother, having run 
her eyes over the agony column, found herself free to 
listen to what was going on. 

' I am surprised at you, my dear !' she remarked 
severely. ' I am sure Edward is prouder of you than 
you deserve.' 

' Possibly. But, then, some men are so good at 
hiding their feelings, mother. How would I look as 
a jockey, Heather ?' 

' Splendid, dear ! But don't you think you are — 
well, a little plump for the profession ?' 

' Don't be spiteful — that's just like Ted. He says 
I want steady exercise every morning, the brute !' 

* I wish Edward would remember that you are not 
a stable boy,' interposed her mother, in a voice of 
deep disgust. 

'By the way, isn't it time they were back?' re- 
marked Heather, glancing at the clock. 

* Oh, they won't hurry,' grumbled her companion. 
* Once let men get into their beloved racing haunts, 
and they'll gossip about condition, and pace, and 
"hot pots," whatever they may be, for hours. We 
are of too little importance to be worth a thought 
when horses are under discussion.' 

* Well, I don't much wonder ; I love a good horse 
myself,' murmured Heather reflectively. Then, as 
she looked out into the gloomy street, the girl added 
wearily : ' What maddening weather ; I almost wish 
that we had stayed in Queensland.' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


6 It does seem a pity to miss our best three months 
for a season like this,' admitted Mrs. Enson ; ' but 
remember, Heather, it was your wish to come.' 

' She's a humbug, mother ! don't take any notice 
of her,' interposed Edith. ' Why, she's just dying to 
see Io show them all her heels.' 

' Her what ?' gasped the old lady. 

' I know I am,' said Heather, her face flushing with 
excitement. 'How the men from the North will 
cheer if she does! They've all backed dear old Io !' 

'I am afraid that foolish young man has risked 
more money than he can afford,' remarked Mrs. 
Enson, as she ran her eyes down the social column. 

' He's put every penny he has in the world on the 

' How do you know, dear T queried Edith. 

' Because Dick told me,' answered the girl, in such 
a natural, matter-of-course tone that her friend con- 
cluded she was either very dull or very deep. 

In reality she was neither. She certainly knew, 
with the knowledge that comes to all women, that 
Hatten was fond of her, and she returned this feeling, 
but with one important difference. She liked him as 
a friend ; he loved her as he had never loved any 
human being. Still, as no word had so far fallen to 
sweep away the sweet uncertainty of the present, they 
remained but chums. 

Just as Mrs. Enson was about to deliver a few 
words of general wisdom founded on her past know- 
ledge of men, Hatten and Johnson walked in. 

' You both ought to be ashamed of yourselves !' 
cried Edith, half in fun, half in earnest. 'A nice 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


time you have kept us in suspense. I suppose you 
expect us to get dressed in five minutes.' 

' 1 am exceedingly sorry/ interposed Hatten, before 
his friend could reply. ' If any inconvenience has 
occurred, I am to blame. To be honest, we got on 
the subject of Io's chances.' 

' And forgot all about us ?' laughed Heather. 

' Not so. Merely forgot what time it was.' 

'I fail to see the difference; but never mind. 
What is your news ?' 

* The races are postponed till Saturday.' 

' Are you glad ?' 

' Well, yes ; on the whole I think I am. You see, 
though Io's a regular mud-lark, I don't quite know 
how she'd shape in a swimming contest.' 

' I'm glad, too,' said the girl, with a look of comical 
despair at the cap. ' I would not have had it ready 
for you to-day.' 

' Let's see how it looks,' said Dick, walking over to 
a mirror. ' Now, you tie it. Not quite so tight, 
please ; you'll stop circulation. Ah ! that's a trifle 
loose ; just a shade firmer, if you don't mind.' 

Standing before him, the girl kept obeying his 
instructions with an anxious desire to please. She 
was evidently interested in securing a good fit ; but, 
despite his wish to think otherwise, that, he felt, was 
all — a somewhat poor result, he had to admit, after 
his elaborate and highly improbable story as to the 
loss of his old cap, which even now lay stuffed into a 
corner of his portmanteau. Still, it was something 
even to wear what her hands had made ; they were 
kindly ones at least. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


' When you young people have quite finished,' said 
Edith, who had apparently forgiven her lover's 
neglect, ' I wish to make a proposition.' 

' We are all attention,' replied Hatten. 

' It is that, in punishment for your sins, the pair of 
you take us for a drive this afternoon.' 

* What do you say, mother ?' asked Heather. 

'I see I am in such a decided minority,' laughed 
the old lady, ' that I had better say I am delighted.' 

'That's a good old soul!' said the girl; 'and I 
propose we go and call on Miss Io.' 

' Agreed,' laughed Johnson. ' Come on, Dick, and 
let us hunt up a decent team; the last lot we had 
make me tired when I think of them.' 

' Mind you pick quiet, respectable animals, Edward,' 
Mrs. Enson called after them. 

' A nice thing to warn a man about who is going to 
explore a Sydney livery stable, eh, Dick?' groaned 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 




The smoking-room of the Midas was gradually filling. 
To-night those who usually had a cigar and then 
went out lit a fresh one, while men kept dropping in 
and forming into little knots in various parts of the 
lofty, richly-furnished room. Taken as a whole, they 
were a keen-looking lot of men ; among them ' cute ' 
faces were as common as intellectual ones were rare. 
In a word, they were fair types of the Australian 
plutocracy. Merchant princes (so called), squatters 
(or, to be more correct, men who managed their 
stations for banking and other institutions), an occa- 
sional politician, racehorse owners, and a nondescript 
contingent who neighed when spoken to on any 
subject, made up the well-dressed mob who lounged 
or sat about discussing horses, wool, and Eussian 
designs. For the moment, at any rate, among the 
group who stood clustered round Sir Eobert Blake, 
the intentions of the Muscovite claimed a foremost 
place. For months a shower of contradictory cable- 
grams had appeared in the daily press. But to-day 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


things looked decidedly stormy, for a Persian army 
had occupied Herat — at least, so the cable asserted. 

Sir Eobert stood in front of the fire, a paper in his 
hand, his spectacles gleaming like a pair of intoxi- 
cated head-lights high up on his forehead. Over six 
feet high, and well set up, he was undoubtedly the 
most striking-looking man in the room. Though for 
years a prominent politician, he was a comparatively 
new member of the Midas, having changed his club 
and his principles within the last six years. 

' This comes of having a confounded Liberal Govern- 
ment in power!' exclaimed Sir Eobert, with a fine 
disregard for the fact that every Cabinet, whether 
Tory or Liberal, had played into Bussia's hands for 
years past. 'These beggars mean making a spring 
this time.' 

' But, then, the cable is such a liar !' protested a 
man half buried in an armchair. 'We've been 
getting these scares off and on for years. I believe 
it's all bosh.' 

' What do you know about it ?' replied Sir Eobert, 
glaring down at the last speaker. 

Interruption always irritated him, but in the case 
of this rather stout, self-satisfied-looking young man 
it became unbearable. 

' About as much as you do, Sir Eobert, I suspect,' 
retorted the sceptic coolly. 

'Then you have more time and brains at your 
disposal than I supposed,' replied Sir Eobert rudely. 
' I imagined both were fully occupied in teaching men 
whose age should protect them how to manage their 
offices and stations.' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


The loud laugh that greeted this brusque retort 
was too much even for the man in the chair, and 
muttering, too low for his opponent to hear, 'Con- 
founded cad V he rose and left the field to the leader 
of the Opposition. 

' They mean coming this time/ continued the ex- 
Premier, lighting a cigar worthy of his own propor- 
tions. 'This Persian business is only a "blind." 
The whole affair is as clear as day. Eussia pulls the 
strings ; Russian officers direct the advance ; and 
while our Government are arguing the matter out 
with the Shah, the Czar will pour a hundred thousand 
men into the gate of India.' 

'My dear fellow/ interposed a slight, rather 
commonplace man, who held the position of Minister 
for War in the existing Government, and in private 
life directed a large soft-goods emporium, 'you are 
as bad as these alarmists who for the last fifty 
years have been attempting to scare England into 
undignified and hysterical action alike unworthy of 
her traditions and present position. Best assured the 
motherland will assert herself when the time comes/ 

'Assert herself bed d!' exclaimed Sir Eobert. 

' If she doesn't soon stop backing herself, she'll fall 
into the Indian Ocean.' 

A chorus of indignant protest told the ex-Eepublican 
that he had gone too far. 

' No man has a greater love and respect for England 
than I,' he continued ; ' and feeling as I do, I'm not 
going to stand by without uttering a protest against 
a policy unworthy of a great nation.' 

' For myself, I have no fear,' returned the Minister 


Digitized by VjOOQIC 


for War. 'In the first place, Russia's power in the 
East is greatly exaggerated; and, further, I feel 
certain, as I said before, that England will assert 
herself when necessary. If Persia has really occu- 
pied Herat, doubtless a commission will settle the 
whole affair.' 

' But what if Russia is, as I maintain, at the back 
of Persia?' 

' My dear Sir Eobert, you are a fire-eater ! Please 
remember that England is a commercial nation, and 
it won't pay to go to war merely for a sentiment.' 

'You've hit the nail on the head,' laughed Dick 
Hatten, who had just come in. ' Napoleon spoke too 
soon, that was all ; we are a nation of shopkeepers.' 

' Sir,' exclaimed the small man indignantly, ' where 
would England be to-day but for her merchant- 
princes ?' 

'In a more dignified position than that of the 
best-snubbed nation on the earth, possibly,' retorted 
Hatten carelessly. 'Hullo, Zenski! what are you 
up to?' 

c Mon ami, I am listening,' retorted the Bussian. 
' Will you not join us ? Here is a chair, and I can 
give you a passable cigar. Allow me to introduce 
you to my friend Mr. Alexis Dromeroff.' 

The man who rose and bowed to Hatten looked, 
despite his clean-shaved upper lip, more of a soldier 
than a civilian. In age he might have been thirty- 
five — possibly was fifty — but the lines about his eyes 
and at the corner of his clean-cut mouth told that in 
knowledge of men he was patriarchal. 

'My friend has just come from Russia/ Zenski 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


went on. * Like myself, he has ideas of his own, and 
so finds it conducive to his health to remain at a 
distance from our great White Father.' 

' Yes, Mr. Hatten,' said Dromeroff, in a low, well- 
modulated voice ; ' living under free British laws, you 
little know what life in Eussia means for the man 
who dares to think for himself. Just when Siberia or 
flight lay before me, my old friend's letter came,, 
telling me of this grand new land of yours, and — well, 
I am here.' 

* I'm sure we're very glad to have you,' replied 
Hatten politely. 'I should imagine, from the way 
Zenski speaks of it, that Eussia must be a deuce of a 
hole to live in for all parties. If you're a Nihilist, the 
Government send you to Siberia; and if you belong to 
the Government, the Nihilists send you to the devil.' 

* Pardon, you mistake; I am not a Nihilist,' inter- 
posed Dromeroff quietly. ' I am what you would call 
a Liberal.' 

Before Hatten could explain, Sir Eobert, who had 
caught the end of the Russian's remark, said, with a 
laugh : 

' Then, I don't wonder the Czar objected to you, 
Mr. Dromeroff. I only wish our King could make as 
short work of our Liberal Government.' 

' You surprise me, Sir Eobert !' replied Dromeroff. 
' I thought you were all democrats.' 

'He is not to be taken au sirieux, Alexis,' inter- 
posed Zenski. * Sir Robert merely suffers from irrita- 
tion for the reason that he thinks the British Cabinet 
have, been too liberal towards Eussia as regards 
frontier lines.' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


' Of course I was only joking, Mr. Dromeroff ; and, 
allow me to add, we are quite ready to welcome all 
the Eussians of your stamp who care to come and 
help us to build up a nation,' said Sir Eobert 
courteously. ' Count Zenski has already shown us 
what your countrymen can do up North.' 

'Bah! it is nothing,' said Zenski. 'I have built 
you a few railway-lines ; anyone could do the same.' 

' Not in the time.' 

' Men and capital will do anything,' answered 
Zenski sententiously. ' Besides, the country is what 
you call easy.' 

' What do you think about this occupation of Herat?' 
asked Sir Eobert abruptly. 

' If a fact — which permit me to doubt — and if at- 
tempted by Persia alone, it is madness ; if carried out 
at the instigation of Eussia, it is what you call " bluff." ' 

' But if so, with what object ?' 

'That I cannot pretend to explain. You forget I 
am as little in touch with St. Petersburg as you are. 
Perhaps the design of an ambitious General acting on 
his own responsibility ; possibly to draw away all your 
available forces in view of another rush on Constanti- 
nople. Who knows ?' 

'What is your opinion, Mr. Dromeroff?' persisted 
Sir Eobert. ' You, at least, cannot plead long absence 
from St. Petersburg.' 

* True ; but you will remember I of necessity know 
nothing but what I may have heard and read in 
common with the rest of the public. Personally, if 
my opinion is worth having, you are most welcome 
to it.' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


' I would be glad to hear it, Mr. Dromeroff,' inter- 
posed the Minister for War, 'if only to convince Sir 
Eobert that the scare is not worthy the consideration 
of a statesman.' 

'Well, gentlemen,' said Dromeroff, hiding the keen 
amusement he felt at the Minister's pompous mouth- 
ing of the word ' statesman/ ' like my friend Zenski, 
I am unable to explain why, but, nevertheless, I can 
only put the movement down as — what shall I say ? — 
" bounce." That Eussia would like well your rich 
possessions seems but natural; that she at present 
has any serious designs on them seems to me im- 
possible. If I mistake not, she will want every avail- 
able Cossack she can put in the field to defend her 
Chinese frontier. The Pamir question can to my 
mind only be settled by another war ; and she has 
learnt that China is not to be despised. Again, look 
at what an invasion of India means — what risks have 
to be taken hundreds of miles from her actual base of 
supplies both of troops and war material. Believe 
me, she recognises, if others do not, how different 
fighting an English army, backed up by Indian troops, 
is to conquering a few nomadic tribes badly armed 
and worse led.' 

'Just my opinion, my dear sir,' exclaimed the 
Minister for War, with a triumphant look at Sir Eobert 
' The British lion has only to wag his tail, and your 
phantom disappears.' 

' He's wagged his tongue so long that I doubt if he 
remembers how to move any other part of his carcase,' 
laughed Hatten. 

' Eussia must also remember,' went on the Minister, 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


ignoring Hatten's remark, * that the first Cossack who 
crosses the frontier gives the signal for our gallant 
boys to rally round the dear old land ; we've done it 
once, and we'll do it again.' As the speaker concluded, 
he rose and stood in front of Sir Robert like a soldier- 
bird defying an emu. 

' Yes/ sneered the ex-Premier ; * and let me add, in 
the first instance, through no wish of your party, 
McFee. Still, so far I am with you, and permit me 
to congratulate you on adopting our idea.' 

' And the country is with you also,' added an officer 
of the Soudan Contingent, noted as the man who, 
when asked to put his company through squad drill, 
gave the historic command, ' Men, fall in four thick.' 
1 The country is with you, sir.' 

Before the warrior could end his remarks, a waiter 
entered with the last edition of the Evening News. 
' The weights for the Melbourne Cup !' exclaimed a 
man, running his eye over a copy. In five minutes 
every man in the room, save the two Russians, was 
discussing the handicap, and Herat was forgotten. 

' They are horses,' muttered Dromeroff contemptu- 
ously in Russian. 

' Principally asses,' retorted Zenski in the same 
tone, lighting a fresh cigar, and handing his case to 
his companion. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 




Ever since the postponement the weather had begun 
to mend, the day before the meeting coming in with a 
clear sky and a fresh, drying wind. 

In paper quotations Sardius held nominal pride of 
place for the big jumping event — partly because he 
represented Victoria, partly from the reason that he 
would be steered by the brilliant amateur, Jack 
Brewster. Still, in doubles Io was coupled with 
everything, and during the week a steady stream of 
money had ' trickled on to her ' in the shops. The 
night before, in 'the Booms/ a commission from 
Victoria, and the backing of two or three local horses, 
had enabled the ring to make a slight demonstration 
against the mare. But, rallying round their champion, 
the Queenslanders had stayed the ' rot,' and she left 
off only a point behind the first favourite. 

There was one horse, however, who troubled 
Johnson and Hatten far more than the much-fancied 

Keenly alive to every move of the game, they had 
noticed that, although scarcely mentioned in the 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


quotations, the books treated Satan with veiled 
respect, and that while no inquiries worth mentioning 
seemed to be made, a well-known old commissioner, 
with the square-toed half Wellingtons and white 
Newgate shave of a bygone age, quietly snapped up 
all fancy shots with unobtrusive regularity.' 

On the track, Satan had done nothing worth re- 
membering; but then, as Johnson remarked, 'that 
was no line ; perhaps they preferred keeping it in him 
for the race; anyhow, the old boy could probably 
show them nothing they hadn't learnt long ago. 

From the quaint, wizened mannikin who combined 
the offices of trainer and jockey, nothing was to be 
learnt. As a tout exclaimed after an hour's chat: 

* D n him ! when you've spent a quid moist'nin' his 

blooming old sucker, blow me if he ain't too dried up 
to pump anything but wind outer.' Of the latter 
commodity there was always an unfailing supply — but 
unfortunately he would blow on any point but the 
right one. On the hoary age and amiable domestic 
characteristics of ' the old 'orse ' he was communicative 
to a degree, but when asked about his possible present 
chances, he would invariably remark sadly: 'Yes, 
he's been a hold dinger in 'is time at shearers' meet- 
ings, but that's gone by these many years. Amn't he 
a pore hold cripple ?' 

'Then why the devil do you bring him here?' 
Johnson asked one day. 

' 'Cos it's the boss's orders.' 

'Who is the boss?' 

' A cove as lives up Grabben Gullen way,' retorted 
the old trainer. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


'He must be a d d fool!' 

'Maybe/ the old man answered shortly; 'I never 
axed him meself .' 

During the* morning Hatten drove out to Eandwick 
and had a look at the mare. 

' She looks pink, Billy,' said the owner, as ' Billy 
the Kid ' pulled off her sheet and exposed to view a 
shining mass of muscle and condition. 

'My oath!' retorted the six-foot slab to whom this 
nickname of bygone light-weight days still clung. 
'Had a goodnight?' 
'You bet.' 

'On her feed?' asked Johnson. 
'She's never off it ; stokes like a gin after a killing/ 
While questioning Billy, Hatten had run his fingers 
over her tendons, and noted that his favourite's eyes 
and coat were both bright and lustrous. Io's lean, 
game head was set on the neck so as to give the wind- 
pipe full play, while a wither fine as a cutwater rose 
above the sloping shoulders. Her short, straight- 
backed, roomy barrel, well ribbed up, and terminating 
in quarters always sturdy, but now a concentrated 
mass of lifting power, rested on timber lithesome as 
steel, and sound as the day she was foaled. For 
though her hind-legs bore the marks of a rap or so 
against the rough split rails of ' Out Back ' courses, 
she had run the gauntlet of the iron-bound tracks of 
the North without break or blemish. Just under 
sixteen hands, and black as night save for a star on 
her forehead, the mare looked a mistress to whom 
one might entrust both life and honour. Stepping 
again through the fresh, white-stemmed straw that 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


rose about her fetlocks, Hatten glanced into her feed- 
box. As he did so, Io rubbed her soft muzzle against 
his coat in friendly greeting. 

* She knows me, Billy,' said Dick, stroking the 
velvet nostrils. 

' You bet !' Billy replied with great animation. 

As they walked towards their cab, Hatten said 
somewhat anxiously : ' I must win to-morrow, Billy.' 

' My oath,' grunted the trainer. 

'But,' went on his master impatiently, 'do you 
think I can ? If the mare goes down, every penny I 
have goes with her.' 

Stopping, Billy remarked fervently: 'Gor bloom 
me!' then, after a pause, added: 'Look here, Mister 
Dick, d'ye mind that day on the Flinders when you 
met me with Matilda up, pig -jumping over them 
blooming sand-hills, leading my blooming water-bag?' 

' When you were on the wallaby, you mean ?' said 
Dick, with a laugh. 

' Yes, per boot. Well, you gave me a lift on the 
pack-horse and a pull at your flask, and we ain't 
parted since, 'ave we ?' 


' An' I've won you a lot o' goes ?' 

'You have, Billy.' 

' Well, I ain't worked off that good turn yet, yo* 
take it from me.' 

'I suppose that means you're going to send the 
mare out a winner to-morrow ?' said Dick in a tone of 
positive relief. 

' My blooming oath !' remarked Billy, expectorating 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 




Mrs. Enson and her daughter had gone out to spend 
the afternoon at the house of an old Queensland friend 
who was giving a garden-party as a sort of welcome 
to the Northern contingent. 

Pleading woman's safest excuse when she wants 
to avoid any social function, Heather had remained 
at the Australia to battle with a ' sick headache.' 

After a time the girl dressed herself for the street, 
and, coming downstairs, started to walk briskly 
towards the Palace Garden. 

Eestless and memory-haunted, the room, with its 
heavy hangings and colourless outlook into the narrow 
house- walled street, had grown hateful; she wanted 
to be alone, but not with such surroundings. The 
sunlight, the flowers, and the pulseless waters 
shining through fronded stems and rich tropical 
foliage, all were kind ; so she went to them as one 
goes to a trusted friend — one with whom all secrets 
are safe, all sorrows sacred. 

Beaching the gates watched over by the bronze 
statue of old Sir Eichard Bourke, and guarded by two 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Eussian cannons now loaded to their muzzles with 
the orange-peel of an irreverent, if rising, generation, 
Heather entered the Palace Garden, walked down the 
broad pathway flanked with isles of scarlet and purple 
and gold set in seas of green, and halted above the 
basin where the marble boxers frown fiercely on each 
other. On her left, above the battlements of Govern- 
ment House, the Union Jack hung listless about its 
staff ; away to the right the avenue of Moreton Bay 
figs rose like a rampart, glimpses of the old Domain 
showing through their stout gnarled boles ; while 
above their crests the pinnacles of St. Mary's shot 
into the clear, translucent air. In front lay the 
gardens, bathing their feet in the blue Pacific. 

For a little while Heather stood watching 'twixt sea 
and shore ; then she passed on, down the roadway 
where the statues stand, to the great flight of steps. 
At their base she turned aside, and seeing an empty 
seat set close against a leafless trunk, sat down upon 
it and looked over the tree -heads out towards the 

We all live two lives. One a dim, uncertain ex- 
istence, its failures and weaknesses lit up here and 
there by a pure thought, a noble inspiration. Its 
mission is to keep us from becoming utterly material, 
repellently brutish. The other — our everyday life, 
needs no explanation ; as a rule, it is all that the 
mystic, the hidden life would teach us to abhor. 

The woman sitting under the tree possessed, in 
common with her fellows, a dual existence; but, 
through no fault of her own, what lay hidden must 
never be revealed to the world, nor could she look 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


on it herself with any feeling but one akin to utter 

In the days which had followed Harden's murder 
and Orloff s escape, memory, unchained by the hypno- 
tist's death, came back to her. For long she lay in 
her cabin in the grief of a horror that had to be faced 

To her fellow-passengers, to her father himself, it 
was but the natural distress of a young girl suddenly 
brought face to face with the utter badness of a man 
she had favoured, if not actually loved, coupled with 
regret for the terrible end of another who appeared 
to have also awakened a certain interest in her. 

To the child tossing in her narrow berth it was the 
death of all things bright and pure, the sudden 
rending of a veil white and spotless, the quick re- 
vealing of a gulf, its black, unfathomable depths 
unrelieved by a single ray of hope. The man she 
hated with a strength that a few days past her 
childless soul had been incapable of creating was 
dead, but the evil he had wrought would live for 
ever, for evil is immortal. The man she knew she 
loved was also dead — if not to life, at least to her; 
but his love would live, to be a crown of sorrow, yet 
to save her, for love, too, is immortal. 

Thus Orloff rescued his twin-soul after all, and she 
rose up a woman pure in heart and determined to 
walk worthy of the man who would be to her for all 
time, not a murderer, but a judge ; not an impossible 
ideal, but one who had smeared his hands with blood 
only that he might wipe away a stain from her own 
life. For though no word was spoken, no message 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


ever sent by him, Heather felt that Orloff knew all, 
and that he understood. And in his keeping she 
realized her secret was safe ; nay, felt a certain sad, 
indescribable joy that he should have the guarding of 
it. Further, something told her they would meet 
again, where or when she knew not, and that when 
he came he would want her for himself, whether in 
earth or heaven. 

So she did not die ; not that she cared to live, but 
because she knew the manner of her death would have 
seemed unworthy of him, and might part them for 
ever. She lived, and as time moved on grew in some 
sort to love life once more and face the world bravely, 
for with the years her latent strength of character ex- 
panded, and she took up her cross with firm hands 
and marched on with the rest. Now for six years she 
had lived this dual life, taking her part in the world's 
joys and sorrows as other women take theirs, but 
always keeping her heart for the coming of her hero, 
and to-day he seemed very near her, and so she sat 
alone gazing out upon the sea. Zenski had met them 
at the theatre the night before, and had introduced 
Dromeroff. In doing so, the old Russian had chanced 
to say, ' Possibly my friend may know some friends of 
yours, Miss Cameron ; he has been a great traveller.' 
In face of the fact that Heather had been wandering 
half over Europe during the past six years, her father 
having yielded to her wishes and again set off a few 
months after their arrival in the Genoa, Zenski's sup- 
position was natural enough. 

To Heather, however, it seemed to conceal a deeper 
meaning. Knowing the friendship that existed between 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


the Count and Orloff, she held a settled conviction 
that the Bussian knew far more than he chose to tell 
of her lover's escape. Why she had arrived at this 
conclusion she could not have logically explained. 
Zenski never mentioned the subject of his own free 
will, and, if it was forced upon him, always professed 
to be as mystified as the rest. Still, the girl held, 
woman-like, to her own opinion, and now began to 
build strange, half-fearful hopes on the flimsy founda- 
tion of a diplomat's chance remark. 

As she sat thus in a day-dream, Dick Hatten, 
searching for her, and duly admiring feminine come- 
liness wherever found, caught sight of a figure which 
seemed to warrant the exertion of a closer inspection. 

Beaching the foot of the stairs, Dick thanked his 
possession of an eye for a pretty woman fervently, for 
now that he had rounded the flank of her sunshade, 
he discovered that he had found the woman he 

Moving noiselessly over the thick grass, he stood 
beside her before she was aware of his presence. 

' A penny for your thoughts, Miss Cameron,' said 

To his surprise, she rose to her feet with an ex- 
clamation, then, meeting his laughing eyes, sank 
back with a faint sigh of disappointment. 

'You startled me out of a day-dream,' she said, 
somewhat sadly, it seemed to him. 

* And I was not the prince you expected, I fear,' he 
replied a little bitterly. 

'Well, no, you were not,' she answered with a 
frankness that argued ill for Dick. ' But then, you 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


know, he only comes in dreams. Where have you 
left Mr. Johnson ?' 

6 Oh, he trotted off to Mrs. Manson's,' said Dick, 
seating himself beside her. 

' And why didn't you ?' 

' Well, you see, as Edith is there, he has a sort of 
duty to perform, which does not apply in my case, so 
when I found out from the clerk that you had gone 
for a walk, I thought I'd do a bit of tracking.' 

' Why? did you think I'd get bushed ?' 

' Hardly that,' replied Dick uneasily ; ' only I felt a 
bit unsettled, and I wanted to have a talk to a — well, 
to a friend.' 

Ignoring his hesitation, she answered with kindly 
interest : 

' I suppose you are anxious about to-morrow ; how 
did you find Io this morning ?' 

i She's all right, thanks.' 

' I do hope for your sake she'll win,' said Heather 

' Then you do take a little interest in me — I mean 
in the mare ?' asked Dick. 

' Of course I take a lot of interest in both of you,' 
replied Heather, adding unconsciously, but cruelly, 
' I'd be a poor Queenslander if I didn't.' 

' Then it's only for the sake of the colony you want 
her to win ?' replied Dick ruefully. 

' Far from it ; I admit I do want dear old Banana- 
land to be in front ; but beyond that, I know all you 
have risked on the race, and how your heart is set on 
winning, and so, as your friend, I wish for your success 
from the bottom of my heart.' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


That was the cruel part of it; as a friend she 
always was ready with her sympathy and good wishes, 
but Dick was keen enough to see that her feelings 
towards him never strayed over that cold, definite 

' I have many friends,' he answered sadly. ' Heather, 
can you never be towards me all they are and some- 
thing more ? Forgive me if I say what had better 
have been left unsaid, but I must speak. All my life 
has been an aimless wandering— a weak, unworthy 
seeking after some new thing only found to be cast 
aside ; I have been that most useless of human beings, 
a man without an object — that most hopeless of 
drifters, a sailor without a star. Now you have come 
into my life, and with you to guide me, I feel that 
there is a future yet to live for.' 

As he spoke in low, disjointed, yet passionate 
accents, the woman at his side listened with growing 
pity to his words. And as his confession fell upon 
her ears, she could not help comparing it with the 
words spoken by Orloff the last time she ever heard 
his voice. Both men, she knew, were physically 
brave, but there comparisons ended. 

Orloff had said, ' You are in need of a strong arm 
to defend and guide you ; let it be mine/ The man 
beside her confessed his weaknesses, and asked her 
practically to defend him from himself and to guide 
him to a nobler life. 

For a little she was silent, realizing how much she 
might be able to do, and further feeling that the man, 
for all his weakness, was worth it. She yet could 
hold out no hope. For one thing, could she in honour 


Digitized by VjOOQIC 


take the place he suggested ? But why trouble about 
that ? she was another's for all time ; and that other 
was braver and stronger and more worthy of her love 
than this suppliant could ever be. 

At last she said quietly, as one who fears to wound, 
yet firmly, as one who would not be misunderstood : 

'To pretend to misunderstand you would be un- 
worthy of both of us. I know what answer you would 
wish me to give, and I am sorry, sorry from my heart, 
that you ever put me in a position to refuse to give it. 
In all other things I will help you, and if a woman's 
good wishes are worth having, mine are always yours. 
Heaven knows I have yearned for such help before to- 
day. I know you will hate me for talking like this ; 
but I must. I cannot love you, but let us be friends, 

While she spoke, Hatten sat looking out over the 
bay. From the decks of the warships the masts rose 
dark and slender, crossed by the tapering yards ; a 
yacht with graceful lines floated like a water-nymph 
near the shore, while midway between the tower of 
Fort Denison and the garden parapet the oars of a 
man-of-war's boat flashed in the sunlight as they rose 
with measured swing. All these things he saw, and 
yet he remembered nothing save the hideous shear- 
legs that rose like a ghastly red scaffold above Garden 
Island. This he never forgot, nor the fact that he 
experienced a keen desire to hang its erectors on a 
string from its triangular summit. 

It was a defeat, he fully realized ; nay, more, the 
rout of hopes massed up behind the bastions of his 
heart for many a day ; and yet, so reluctantly do we 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


surrender a cherished desire, the man rallied his 
broken forces round one word. She had called him 

' I have been too precipitate/ he muttered brokenly. 
' For the present I accept your offer to be my own 
familiar /friend.' 

Feeling it would be both prudish and unkind to 
cavil at his 7 conditional bargain at such a time, she 
made no demur, and thus from very kindness undid 
all that which had cost so much effort but a moment 

'May I see you back to the hotel?' said Hatten, 
subdued, but full of fresh aspirations. 

' Yes/ she answered, rising, and looking away past 
the tall figure before her into that land of dreams 
among whose filmy mists another figure seemed to 
stand and beckon. 

' What are you looking at ?' he asked in wonder — 
' that ghastly gallows V 

With a shiver, she answered : 

* No ; at that which lies beyond/ 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 




In front of the Australia a four-in-hand stood, gazed 
at with a certain languid interest by a pack of 
cigarette - smoking infants, who filled in the time 
not occupied in disposing of * c'rect cards ' by frank 
criticisms on the leaders' fore-legs and the driver's 
only ones. 

Still, apart from some want of motive displayed 
in the man's tops as compared with the narrowness 
of his calves, and an indescribable stuffiness which 
seems to cling like a birth-mark about all vehicles for 
hire, the turnout in question was worthy of the 

Dick and Johnson had secured it days before, having 
decided, after the manner of bushmen down for a 
spell, to live up to the traditions of their order while 
in town. 

In the vestibule of the hotel a well - dressed mob 
stood comparing notes, while pulling on gloves and 
adjusting the hang of their field-glasses. 

Globe-trotters, who would have been millionaires 
had half the checks displayed on their bodies been 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


negotiable ; a well-advertised star actor * doing ' the 
colonies, for the good and sufficient reason that he was 
' done ' at home ; the vendor of a magic balm which, 
applied to the soles of the feet, cured deafness, and 
who averred that his mane-like head of hair was worth 
£200 a year to him; a sprinkling of Anglicized 
Australians, whose fathers had sold their §ouls in 
' dummying ' land, so that their offspring might 
acquire an Oxford training and an utter contempt for 
the old man — these, with sundry well-dressed women 
of all nationalities, made up the contingent which the 
Australia was about to send to Eandwick. 

As the Isis Downs party came down the marble 
staircase, the people below stared with more than 
passing interest at this last addition to their ranks. 
Edith, with her warm colouring and black hair, set 
off by a bright-gray tailor-made dress, with boa and 
toque of fur of a darker shade, looked like a joyous 
spirit of the night who had come to gladden the day. 

Clad in that rich brown which in the sunlight 
glows with a golden radiance, its plainness relieved 
with deep borderings of astrakhan, Heather, white- 
skinned and hazel-eyed, with the hair and form of the 
Queen of the Morning, moved by her side in stately 

As the girls, piloted by Mrs. Enson and Count 
Zenski, reached the hall, Hatten and Johnson, accom- 
panied by Dromeroflf and the rest of the men of their 
party, joined them. 

' I do hope those wretched horses are quiet, 
Edward,' said the old lady anxiously ; ' I noticed the 
leaders jumping about before we came down.' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


_ ! 1 

'You needn't let that trouble you, Mrs. Enson,' 
interposed Dick. ' That's all included for the money 
— it's merely for effect.' 

' Well, suppose we make a start ?' suggested John- 
son. ' It won't do to miss the hurdles.' 

As he spoke he moved towards the steps, followed 
by the rest. Swinging himself on to the box, he now 
took the reins, while Hatten and the other men, after 
helping the ladies into their places, clambered up 
on top. 

' Are you all fixed ?' inquired Ted, straightening out 
his team. 

'Yes.' ' 

'Now, don't be scared, Mrs. Enson,' whispered 
the manager, as, dropping his whip lightly on the 
leaders, they rose on their hind-legs according to 

Steadying them, Johnson got his wheelers going, 
and the drag swung round into King Street, and away 
past the statue and St. Mary's, at a good ten miles an " 
hour. Oxford Street, with its trams and miscellaneous 
traffic, steadied Ted's pace considerably, but once past 
the Captain Cook Hotel all was again plain sailing. 

On either side, as they bowled along the straight, 
tree-guarded roadway, crowds of footballers 'dribbled' 
and ' passed ' and ' collared ' to the loud-voiced 
applause of frantic ' barrackers,' while the bunting 
floating above the Association Ground told that there 
some special struggle for supremacy was taking place. 

'You are a sporting race, Mis^ Cameron,' said 

' Some ill-natured people say that we are nothing 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


else/ the girl replied. ' But don't you think, Mr. 
Dromeroff, it is, after all, better to see too much play 
than none at all ?' 

' Youth is the time for play,' retorted the Bussian, 
diplomatically polite. 

'Miss Cameron is very — what shall I say? — Aus- 
tralian,' interposed Zenski ; ' and we are surrounded 
by the same interesting race, so be careful, mon ami .' 

Now they were in the thick of the stream of vehicles 
bound for Bandwick, and Johnson, tractable as his 
team was, had his hands full. 

' It's a bit different to steering out back, eh, Ted ?' 
queried Hatten, as a bus axle broke just in front. 

' You're right, old man,' muttered Johnson, steering 
round the wreck. 'You can take the bearing of a 
stump, and it won't fool you ; but these confounded 
beggars line you, and jostle, and take the running as 
coolly as gentlemen jockeys.' 

' You are very personal,' said Heather, with a glance 
at Hatten. 

'Oh, Ned's only thinking of himself,' chimed in 

So, laughing and talking and chaffing, they rolled 
on, giving their dust to the lumbering four-horse 
buses and getting it back from the fast-trotting 
American buggies, dodging the delivery-vans and 
dodged by the sporting sulkies, racing the one or two 
private drags that Sydney could boast, and admiring 
the numerous well - horsed open carriages, where, 
wrapped in arrogance which sought in vain to hide 
their commonplace, sat Higginbotham's 'wealthy 
lower orders.' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


'What do you think of them, Zenski?' asked 
Hatten, as the Russian lifted his hat to his old friend, 
Sir John Baggs. 

' Frankly, my friend/ replied the Count, who knew 
he could trust Dick, ' not much. They are the newest 
plutocracy in the world, and consequently the most 

' How do you make that out ?' 

'Most simply. In America time has, in many 
cases, mercifully removed the original self-made man, 
and more refined association has rubbed the crude 
edges off his descendants. Here you seldom get be- 
yond the founder of a fortune. For your fortunes are 
so paltry that, by the time your parvenu has brought 
himself into society, he has to drop out again for want 
of funds. But here we are; and, if I mistake not, the 
horses are going out for the first race.' 

As Zenski spoke, Johnson wheeled his leaders into 
the carriage reserve, just as the discordant yet blood- 
quickening roar of the ring rose in that space behind 
the members' stand where men play pitch-and-toss 
with fortune and honour in the name of sport and in 
the guise of pleasure. 

Digitized by Vj'OOQIC 




Leaving the ladies in charge of three members of 
their party who meant to 'stand off' the hurdles, 
Dick and Ted hurried into the paddock, followed more 
leisurely by the two Eussians. 

'There they are,' said Zenski, as he and his 
friend took up a position beside a tree: 'commerce 
and law and medicine, masters and servants — even 
the Church, for aught I know — all are represented 
here : the world and his wife to pay tribute to a 
four-legged god through his chosen high-priests, the 

'In England, too, they think much of the race- 
horse ; so do we, Zenski.' 

' Here they think of nothing else ; and that is one 
of the reasons why we have had so little trouble. 

As Zenski was speaking, a well-dressed, keen-look- 
ing middle-aged man coming from the Birdcage 

'One moment, Mr. Mills,' said Zenski, touching 
him on the arm ; ' what is this I hear about Herat?' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Stopping, the man looked puzzled for a moment, 
then said in a tone of annoyance : 

' Hanged if I can remember the nominations a bit ! 
What about him ? Is he scratched ?' 

6 So I hear/ replied the Eussian. 

'•Hope you haven't backed him/ retorted the other, 
adding, in a tone of friendly warning, as he turned 
away: 'Take my advice, and never touch 'em till 
after the weights are out/ 

' Who is he ?' inquired Dromeroff curiously. 

' A member of the Upper House/ said Zenski with 
a cynical grin. 

As the winner of the hurdle-race turned up in Dart, 
a comparative outsider ridden by Jack Brewster, it 
naturally caused that brilliant horseman's mount for 
the steeplechase to harden in the betting. Two 
minutes after the red flag was hoisted Sardius 
touched six to four, while, partly from the advance 
of the favourite and partly because of a rumour 
having gained ground to the effect that a well-known 
horse-owner and member of the committee had backed 
Satan, Io receded a couple of points. 

Still the Queensland ' crowd ' remained confident, 
for the mare looked fit as hands could make her, and 
her rider professed himself as confident of a favourable 

As few of the Northern men were members, the 
whole party took luncheon at a reserved table under 
the stand. Let moralists preach as they may, I wonder 
if friends can come together under gladder conditions 
than those of a race-lunch. Given that the wine 
be mellow and the hearts be leal, I doubt it. Too 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


early in the day to count the cost, the sordid side of 
the question is as yet absent, while, the first blood 
being drawn, the layers, whether the skirmish be for 
or against them, are full of fight and enthusiasm.' 
Given the presence of two young and handsome 
women both deeply interested in the same horse as 
themselves, the man who is to ride and every other 
man present a devoted partisan, and I can conceive 
no closer bond of camaraderie. 

Such were the spirits who now toasted Io and the 
North amid the clatter of knives and the popping of 
corks under the Eandwick Stand. During the lull 
that fell upon the paddock between luncheon and the 
next race, Mrs. Enson foregathered with her friend 
Mrs. Manson, leaving the two girls in charge of 
Hatten and Johnson. Her daughter and the manager 
of Isis Downs thoroughly understood each other, and, 
despite Edith's habit of making light of Ted's horsey 
proclivities, the girl really loved the good-hearted, 
straight-going bushman. Eecognising that it would 
be some time before he could offer her a home, John- 
son in no way attempted to clog her freedom of 
action, shrewdly judging that in love, of all things, 
coercion is worse than useless. That Edith fully 
returned this magnanimity is doubtful, while that she 
to a certain extent took advantage of it, Johnson 
occasionally found to his cost. Still, on the whole, 
all went smoothly enough, and to-day, as he walked 
with her up and down the lawn, he fully realized how 
good a thing it was to have for his possession this 
winsome, warm-hearted daughter of tropic suns. 

Hatten and Heather wandered farther afield, taking 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


advantage of the lessened crowd to look at the mare 
round which so many hopes centred. A weaker 
woman would have avoided Hatten altogether; one 
less earnest and honest would have made the fact of 
their being together appear to possess an embarrass- 
ment for her, whether it did so or not. With Heather 
all this was impossible. She had told him she had 
no love to give, and she meant it; she had, in place of 
what she did not possess, offered him her truest friend- 
ship, and in this, as in all things, she was sincere. 
Doubting his stability in all matters pertaining to 
deep human passion, she had little fear as to his 
quick recuperative power, and so, now that he had 
accepted what she offered, she felt that her best and 
kindest course was to simply ignore all that had 
passed, save only her latest compact. Though in this 
she had somewhat misjudged Dick, he, on his part, 
was too much a man of the world to rush on another 
certain defeat when every hope of ultimate success 
seemed to lie in delay. So, satisfied with the fact 
that if refused he had still retained his position, he, 
too, for the present, ignored all that had passed save 
the fact that they were firm friends, both deeply 
interested in the fortunes of Io. 

Leaning against the rails of her stall, Billy the Kid 
kept jealous guard over his favourite. Seeing his 
master and Heather approach, the trainer's face 
brightened slightly under its casing of tan. 

As a rule Billy strongly objected to women ; at any 
rate, in connection with horse-racing. Some years 
ago he had remarked to Hatten, when discussing the 
hiring of a lad, 'Boys is the ruin of stables, an' socks 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


an* wimmin is the ruin o' boys/ and he meant it. 
However, with Heather it was different. The trainer 
recognised that she not only loved, but knew a good 
horse when she saw one ; and this, coupled with the 
fact that she had made a complete new suit for the 
mare when Billy was last at the Downs, induced him 
to waive his objections in her case. 
Beturning his clumsy, half-bashful acknowledgment 

with a courtesy that was a part of her, Heather asked 

if all was well with the mare. 
'My o — beg pardon, my word, miss/ said Billy. 

1 She's had a great night, and ' — throwing back the 

sheet — ' 'er coat's as shiny as yer own !' 

' It does you credit, Billy/ said the girl, smiling at 

his simile. ' I'm afraid mine never gets so well looked 

' It's all a question 0' elbow-grease, miss/ replied 

Billy oracularly. 
Here Hatten interposed, asking the trainer if he 

had heard anything about Satan. 

'It's whispered 'e did a great go last Thursday 

mornin' with the weight up, but I don't think it/ 
answered Billy. ' They got 'is measure to a 'air long 
afore he come to Bandwick, you take it from me, sir; 
and they means backin' 'im for what they's worth, all 
right. But never you mind ; all you got to do is to 
keep a hold 0' the mare's head, an' don't let them go 

too slow, nor yet take you too fast, and you'll d 

well lose 'em at the finish. Beg pardon for swearing, 
miss,' stuttered Billy; 'I ain't been accustomed to 
ladies as minds— I mean the mare likes me to swear 
at 'er a bit.' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


' Send her in a winner to-day, Billy, and, for the 
sake of the North, I'll forgive you,' said Heather 
kindly. ' Thank goodness, if she has learnt a bad 
habit, she can't express it.' 

' She's in the first class, she is !' muttered Billy 
admiringly, as the two walked back towards the stand. 
* But he'll never lead 9 er in a winner, if I know any- 
thing about trainin'.' 

As the horses went out for the Ransom Plate, the 
big flat event of the meeting, Zenski and Dromeroff, 
who had been captured by Sir John Baggs before 
luncheon, rejoined the party. 

The Wonder, despite a career marred by frequent 
loss of form, again left the paddock an ' odds on ' 

' He looks head and shoulders above his field,' re- 
marked Dromeroff. * I think I must have a wager ; 
it's better to buy money at a short price than to lose 
it at a long one/ 

' Certainly, my friend,' retorted Zenski ;. ' I will go 
with you.' 

As the two neared the ring, the older man added : 

' Let well alone ; when the price is too short, he 
becomes seized with a curious desire to inspect the 
tails of his compatriots. Come into the members' 
stand, and judge for yourself.' 

The race needs little description; the Wonder, 
fighting for his head, lay out of position until entering 
the straight, then came only to be blocked; and, 
finally, after pulling out and coming round his field, 
just suffered defeat at the hands of a rank outsider by 
a length. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


As the horse returned to the weighing-yard, looking 
fit to go out again and run away from his field, an 
angry crowd gathered round the railing, and treated 
both horse and owner to a volley of hearty, ill-sound- 
ing groans. 

Standing beside his horse, the Wonder's master 
looked with supreme contempt at the white-faced men 
who hissed. 

' Let them howl !' he said, loud enough for all to 
h6ar. ' They have the fun, and I have the stuff !' 

' He is a philosopher,' remarked Dromeroff. 

* He would make an admirable Eussian,' returned 
Zenski admiringly, ' but I doubt if he is honest enough 
even for us.' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 




The last bell had rung out over the crowded course, 
and in response to its harsh, metallic summons the 
men on the boxes in the Ledger and the ' leviathans ' 
of the paddock alike ' gave tongue.' 

Layers, whether Jew or Gentile, shouted aloud their 
strident chorus of ' Ten to one, bar three !' ' Six to 
four, Sardius !' ' Three to one, Higho !' ' Who wants 
to back one?' 'The field a pony, Til lay, I'll lay!' 
and the public listened as though it were the refrain 
of some new, strange song, and backed their fancies, 
and their tips, and their dreams, with a childlike 
imbecility born of greedy hearts and sport-saturated 
heads. Threading their way through the pressing, 
shouting mass, the twelve competitors for the Grand 
National slowly filed out into the straight. 

'Don't be in a 'urry, sir/ said Billy, who was 
walking beside Io. ' Last out, first in.' 

As he spoke, Cohen, book in hand, rushed up. 

' I'll lay you three hundred to one, Mr. Hatten. 
Bemember, you promised to give me a turn.' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


' Make it a point longer, Cohen,' replied Dick, after 
a moment's hesitation. 

'It's a wager, four hundred to one hundred ; thanks, 
sir ; hope you get home.' 

' I thought you said on Thursday it would be level 
money,' remarked Hatten a trifle uneasily. 

' So it would,' replied the fielder ; ' only, you see, a 
commission's come in the last ten minutes, and they're 
backing Satan like water. There you are,' cried the 
bookmaker, hurrying away, as up from the ring rose 
'Level money, Satan!' * Three to one, Sardius!' 
' Four to one, Io !' 

Taking the bookmaker's place, Johnson laid his 
hand on Io's mane. 

' For heaven's sake, be careful, Dick !' he whispered 
anxiously. 'Don't throw away a chance, old mate. 
The knowing crowd fancy they have a certainty in 
Satan, and they're just pouring it on to him.' 

' So I can hear,' returned Hatten. ' Well, let 'em ; 
level money alone never won a race yet ; I've just put 
about my last pound on the mare, and if she stands 
up, I'll stretch his neck before I've finished with him.' 

' Be patient, and don't forget Sardius,' said John- 
son, as they reached the gate. ' You carry all I can 
afford to lose, and a lot some of our crowd can't.' 

'What can I do for you, Count?' asked a good- 
looking, well-set-up man, whose two clerks were book- 
ing wagers as fast as their pencils could travel over 
the paper. ' Better take a monkey about the mare/ he 
continued, as the other shook his head. 'All the 
Queenslanders are going nap on her.' 

' What price Io ?' interrupted a fresh client. 


Digitized by VjOOQIC 


' Four to one.' 

* I'll take a hundred at fives/ 

'Four fifty to a hundred, as it's a last wager. 
Thanks, sir. Book it to Mr. Jardine. Now, Count, 
shall I book you the same ?' 

' No, my friend ; I never back the sex,' retorted 

' I'll lay you two to one, Satan, just for a bet, then,' 
exclaimed the bookmaker. 'They'll be away in a 
minute, and it's level money everywhere else/ 

'You can book it!' said the Eussian, as the gong 
gave the signal ; ' I always back the devil !' 

As the field for the Grand National drew up in 
front of the starter, the patrons of the Ledger, desert- 
ing purse mysteries and roulette tables, swarmed like 
ants into the stand, while up out of the paddock their 
richer brothers streamed into the flag-capped vantage- 
ground that faced the lawn. In the open land oppo- 
site the treble, humanity, balanced on the tops of cabs 
and family vans, looked over a fringe of heads whose 
owners clutched with eager fingers the white palings 
which guarded the track. At the corner nearest the 
winning-post the Northern contingent had posted 
themselves ; and there Zenski and Dromeroff now 
joined them. 

Skyward all was blue, while from the sea a light 
wind came, catching as it passed a perfume of heather 
from the sandy dunes. In the straight way the sun- 
light glistened on restless splashes of colour, cat-like 
muscles moving beneath shining skins and glittering 
steel. From the quick-pulsed stands hundreds of 
glasses flashed its beams. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


As the horses breasted the machine a great silence 
fell over stands and flat alike. Then the barrier cut 
through the air, and amid a strange inarticulate roar 
the gong boomed over the level lands, and on the 
horses came. 

From the jump the lightweights forced the pace, 
trusting to the dead going to account for the cracks. 
As they raced past the lawn, Hatten, hanging to the 
rails for the sake of the firmer going, glanced ahead 
for Satan's black jacket. 

'He's not among 'em,' said Brewster, who lay 
beside him. 

'A bit 'eavy, ain't it?' grunted a voice, and 
glancing over his shoulder, Dick caught sight of the 
lightweight's dark muzzle lying on Sardius's quarter. 

At the first fence Tartar went round, but the rest of 
the field, jumping like ' tradesmen,' left it behind. 
Now they were off the course proper, and the going, 
though sound, was deader than ever ; but scorning all 
question of elasticity, the front division raced at the 
water-jump, led by old Eecruit, who, true to tradition, 
seemed determined to make the running while he 
stood up. Taking a good hold of the mare's head, 
Dick sent her at the narrow streak. Knowing it was 
new to her, he had let Sardius up on the inside, and 
now, to his infinite relief, Satan came up on her 
other shoulder. Standing feet away, she just saved 
herself with a scramble, while the favourite and 
Sardius, flying it without an effort, gained a couple of 
lengths. Satisfied to be over at all, Hatten now took 
a strong pull, lying twenty lengths behind the leaders 
as they galloped along the back stretch. Watching 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


each other, the old man and Brewster began to im- 
prove their position as the already trailing field turned 
their heads towards the treble. With a rattle of 
hoofs and flashing of whips over raced the leaders, 
Satan and Sardius jumping neck and neck, both 
beautifully handled and both full of running. 

Leading the ruck, Io faced the timber alone, and, 
fencing as clean as a stag, woke once more the cheer 
that had greeted the first flight. Still waiting, the 
Northern champion lay five lengths behind, as the 
favourites, moving through the shattered ranks of the 
light division, flashed side by side over the logs and 
began to close on the gallant Eecruit. 

' They've forgotten me/ muttered Dick, as horse 
after horse began to come back to him. Once over 
the fence at the bend, he, too, began to move up, and 
as Satan, leading Sardius by a length, rushed Eecruit 
at the first of the treble and brought him down, Io 
ran up within half a length of the Melbourne horse, 
and led him over the last two fences amid the yells of 
' Queensland for ever !' 

Eecognising that he must now make every use of 
his light weight, the old jockey on Satan drove his 
mount along in the hope of bringing down Sardius ; 
and feeling that it was no longer wise to let the 
favourite away, Hatten, still keeping a big hold of the 
mare, led the Melbourne horse by a length over the 
jump opposite Oxenham's. Glancing back, the old 
man saw he had two to deal with, and trusting to 
his condition, he sat down on his horse to make the 
pace a cracker. As he did so, Sardius made a run, and 
closing with Io, the two, leaving the beaten field as 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


though they were anchored, set sail after the light- 
weight. At the logs they were two lengths behind, 
and so they raced along the back ; but at the next 
fence Satan struck heavily, and, falling on his knees, 
lost position. Locked together, Hatten and Brewster 
raced at the last fence but one — under the whip. As 
they rose, two tails flashed for a second high in air, 
then a thousand voices, hoarse with fear, uttered the 
dread cry : ' They're down !' Pale and white-lipped, 
the women turned aside. Then, their greed master- 
ing all of humanity that was in them, the backers of 
Satan yelled exultantly, ' The favourite wins !' for 
Sardius lay motionless, and the mare staggered to her 
feet alone. 

'No, by Jingo!' muttered Johnson, between his 
teeth as lo rose and Hatten sprang up beside her. 

Half dazed, the mare struggled to get free as the 
thunder of Satan's hoofs caught her ear, but running 
beside her, Hatten, with a supreme effort, vaulted on 
to her back, and, tossing the reins over her head, set 
her going before the favourite reached the fence. 
Still watching through his glasses, Johnson shouted : 
'His reins are crossed, and one stirrup gone; my 
God, the palings !' 

Maddened with the fierce excitement of the race, 
the heavy masses in the stands sent up a roar of 
exultation that was caught and carried on down the 
crowded railings and away over the teeming flat. 
Then in a moment all was still. 

The paling fence lay not twenty yards in front of 
the man who, with reins crossed and stirrup gone, was 
driving lo at it with whip and spur. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Dead with a broken neck lay Sardius, stretched 
across his gallant rider, but Satan, blood-smeared and 
foam enshrouded, strode like an avenging fury not 
ten lengths behind ; so, for a woman's bright eyes 
and the glory of the North, Dick let Io have her head, 
and, guiding her with whip and knee, drove her at 
the centre panel. 

Did she know, this gallant daughter of a royal race ? 
I deem she did ; but be that as it may, with never a 
flinch or a swerve, ears pricked, and her eyes be- 
dimmed yet fearless, she measured her distance, and, 
rising above the wooden wall, landed with her face set 
for home, while the bronzed children of the North 
sent up a shout louder than the cries in dust-shrouded 
cattle-yards, for Satan had balked, and, even as they 
cheered, the mare flashed past the judge's box alone. 

Carried away by the excitement of the finish, men 
and women alike had hurried down out of the stand, 
and Heather and Edith now found themselves stand- 
ing against the railing, close under the judge's box, 
surrounded by a jubilant crowd of Queenslanders. 
Keenly alive to a gallant action, Heather felt a genuine 
admiration for Hatten, as torn and dusty he now 
rode back towards the weighing-yard beside the clerk 
of the course, and followed by Satan, who had got 
over the palings at the second attempt. 

As he rode in, flushed with the pride of victory, and 
greeted by the cheers of winners and losers alike, 
Hatten's eyes fell on the woman he loved standing 
beside the railing. Guiding Io to the picket fence, he 
pulled up beside her. Then, moved by a sudden 
impulse, the girl took a buttonhole of violets and 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


snowdrops out of her jacket, and, leaning forward, 
handed it to him. With no thought save that they 
were her gift, Hatten eagerly stretched out his hand 
and took the flowers. As he did so a murmur of 
warning rose, and a dozen hands were thrust out to 
stop him, while Johnson, springing over the fence, 
caught his arm, saying, in an audible whisper : 

' For God's sake drop them, man !' 

'No,' replied Dick, pressing them to his lips and 
then thrusting them into his jacket, 'I will not' — 
then, realizing the mistake he had made, he added : 
' Surely no man would enter a protest on such 

Keenly watching, a smile of satisfied malice crept 
over the wizened face of Satan's jockey. ' The 
bloomin' swell 'as chucked it away, arter all,' he 

' What !' exclaimed Johnson hotly ; ' would your 
owner be mean enough to take advantage of a woman's 
mistake ?' 

' See here, mister,' retorted the old man ; ' we goes 
for the stuff, we does, and what's more, we means to 
get it. If you thinks you're goin' to rush a man the 
way your crowd did, and then kid the committee it was 
all along 0' a nosegay, you're d well mistaken.' 

Following the direction of the man's eyes, Ted saw 
the old bookmaker who executed the commission in 
favour of Satan talking to the member of the com- 
mittee whom report credited with being his biggest 
backer. As he watched, the significance of what the 
old jockey had put forward struck him with crushing 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


For a few minutes the crowd waited for the red flag. 
Then, instead of the signal being hoisted, it was 
announced that the owner of Satan had entered a 
protest against the race being awarded to Io on the 
grounds that her jockey was interfered with before 
being weighed in. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 




On the Monday after the race, the A.J.C. committee 
sat to decide the protest entered against Io. The out- 
spoken indignation of the public, and the private 
efforts of not a few prominent racing men, had alike 
failed to induce the owner of Satan to withdraw his 

'My horse is heavily backed/ was his answer to 
both argument and appeal, ' and I mean to go by the 

Unfortunately on this point they were singularly 
clear, and as the member who was supposed to have 
plunged heavily on Satan put it : ' They would stultify 
themselves as a responsible body if they broke 
through a clearly-stated and most important regula- 
tion for the sake of sentiment.' 

This settled the matter, and as a question of racing 
law the committee upheld the objection, and awarded 
the race to Satan. 

As Hatten and Johnson walked out of the com- 
mittee-room, Ted laid his hand on his friend's 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


i It's a cursed shame, old chap/ he said, ' a cowardly 
robbery. I wish I had the committee in nigger 
country for about half an hour.' 

Turning a face a trifle white, Dick replied coolly, 
almost cheerfully : 

* They couldn't help it, Ted ; every man of them, 
bar Mills, would have given me the race if he could. 
We have to thank him and that dog from Grabben 
Gullen for the lot.' 

' Well, we're in the soup, any way,' retorted Ted 
ruefully, ' every mother's son of us ; but there, old 
man,' as Dick started to apologize, ' none of that : you 
rode like a hero for us ; it makes me mad to think it 
was all for nothing.' 

* You forgot my lady's gift,' said Dick lightly. * Ted,' 
he continued, ' you may call me as big a fool as you 
like, but that bunch of flowers means more to me 
than all I have lost.' 

' Oh, confound your lady's gift ! I wish she'd kept 
her flowers to herself!' exclaimed Johnson wrathfully. 
' I didn't think Heather was such a fool.' 

'Neither did I,' said Hatten absently ; ' but never 
mind, I'm awfully sorry for all the fellows who backed 
me, and I admit it's a bit of a facer ; still, it's not the 
first. Let's have a drink.' 

' Look here, Dick,' said Johnson as they drove out 
later to Irish Town together, 'we know each other 
well enough for me to speak straight: I've got a 
hundred left ; will you go me partners in it for, say, a 
couple of months ?' 

' No, thanks, old chap,' answered Hatten ; * as luck 
has it, I find I have held on to enough to get Billy, 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


the mare, and myself up North again. But you've 
put me in your debt just as much as though I 

'Nonsense!' muttered the bushman, anxious like 
all his craft to deprecate any imputation of gene- 
rosity. ' What do you think of this talk about the 
Eussians collaring India? It's not much in my 
line, but I heard them gassing about it at breakfast 
yesterday, and old Zenski said something about 
our sending another contingent. As you're a bit 
given to soldiering, I thought you might be on for 

'I gave that up years ago,' answered Dick — 'in 
fact, ever since I was Lieutenant in OrlofFs Mounted 
Eifles in Brisbane.' 

'Was not that the chap who shot a man and 
escaped from the steamer at Colombo, the time Miss 
Cameron was coming out V 

' Yes,' replied Hatten, flushing slightly ; ' and, say 
what they will, I'll swear the fellow deserved it. 
Orloff was a hot-tempered beggar, but as straight as 
a die.' 

'People said at the time that he was jealous 
about ' 

' People are idiots !' interrupted Dick, for this was 
a question he would never willingly discuss, both 
because he knew it was Heather's wish to let it die, 
and because, feeling there was much truth in it, it 
pained him. ' But about this contingent business ; 
if it is got up, I won't be one.' 

' Why, the last was a regular picnic !' 

' That's right enough ; and don't think I'm funking, 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Ted; but the fact is, I fancy well be all wanted at 
home before long.' 

* Why, the Unionists are dead to the world !' 
'Perhaps. Cheeky as the beggars were, it would 

be better if they weren't,' replied Hatten seriously. 
' I don't like all this land-grant, syndicate business, 
Ted. Queensland — at any rate, up North — is full of 
Kanakas and coolie scum. All the old squatters are 
either gone or are managing for a lot of Johnnies 
who never saw Australia, and don't care a rap for it 
so long as dividends come in.' 

* It's a bit sick, I'll admit ; but you know what a 
devil of a time the Unions gave us before McLoskie 
let in cheap labour.' 

' If I'm not mistaken, old Zen ski and that Levant 
crowd at Point Parker will give us a worse time 
still,' retorted Hatten. ' I don't cotton to these oily 

'But, hang it, man! Zenski hates the Bussian 
Government like poison,' exclaimed Johnson in 

' So he says,' retorted Dick suspiciously. * But I 
wouldn't trust the sneering old devil as far as I could 
pitch him ; and what's more, I'd like to see some- 
thing more reliable between us and the Bussian 
squadron than a lot of Kalmuck stockmen and coolie 

Just then the cab pulled up in front of Io's quarters, 
and Johnson forgot to reply as he caught sight of 
Billy's head stuck out of the horse-box. 

With arms resting on the top of the lower door, 
the trainer watched his visitors' approach. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


'Well, Billy, what do you think of it?' asked 

' I think they're a lot of pigs — not ordinary swine, 
but sandy-haired, long-tailed hogs, with manes on 
their backs !' replied the trainer, adding solemnly, as 
he spat over his left arm : ' Blast 'em !' 

' How's the mare ?' 

'Barring bein' a bit cut about the stifles, and 
generally gravel-rashed, she's fit to go out now an' 

give that d d mosquiter- chested waster three 

stone and a floggin' !' 

Walking up to his favourite, Dick ran his hand 
lightly over her swelled stifles; then, caressing the 
head that she bent towards him, he said a trifle 
bitterly : 

' You're all I've left, old girl.' 

' What have I done, Master Dick ?' muttered a voice 
at his elbow. 

' Your best, Billy,' replied Dick gratefully. * It was 
all my fault.' 

' All a woman's tomfoolery,' grunted Johnson. 

' See here, Mister Johnson,' said Billy. ' You know 
my general opinion of wimmin ?' 

' They're the ruin of boys and stables — eh, Billy ? 
You're about right in this case.' 

' Well, given in all about this affair, I don't include 
Miss Heather in no such opinion.' 


' She ain't a woman.' 

' What the deuce is she, then ?' 

* She's a Duchess ; the King never knighted a 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Absurd as Billy's compliment was, Hatten's heart 
warmed towards him as it had never done before. 

'You're right, Billy,' he said heartily. 'Get Io 
on board the mail to-morrow night, and next season 
we'll give them another taste of our quality without 
the chance of winning on a foul.' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 




The night after the Grand National Zenski and his 
friend, Alexis Dromeroff, sat over the fire in the 
former's room at the Australia. 

' So the mine is about to be fired, Colonel,' said 
Zenski, who for the last half-hour had been a silent 
but attentive listener. 

* Yes/ replied his companion ; ' the work Peter left 
as a legacy is practically accomplished. The path 
that has taken centuries to tread, and which even 
in the last hundred years has cost Eussia one 
hundred million pounds, has at last landed us within 
striking distance of Herat.' 

'And ' 

' And at the gates of India,' said the soldier, as he 
rose and walked up and down the room. * Zenski,' 
he went on, in a voice low, but full of fierce excite- 
ment, 'what a prize lies at the feet of the Czar! 
Worth all the blood and treasure poured out on desert 
steppes, eh ? — worth as much again !' 

'But that is not India, my friend,' interrupted 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


'It is its gate, and, thanks to English statesmen, 
we are in full possession of the ways which can bring 
us there quickly, and without trouble.' 

'As a base it would be doubtless admirable, I 
admit,' remarked the Count ; ' but we are not exactly 
there yet.' 

' Not there,' retorted Dromeroff impatiently, ' when 
a Persian army practically led by Eussian officers is 
there? Persia, liable to an attack all along the 
frontier, already Eussianized in great part, and at 
best an inert mass ready for moulding as we wish, 
will hold it long enough, thanks to England's policy 
of masterly inactivity and settlement by commis- 
sioners, for us to make our spring at our leisure.' 

* But suppose England alters her policy for one of 
action ?' 

' No fear of that !' laughed the Colonel con- 
temptuously. ' Being commercial, they will bargain. 
But even so, as you well know, the mountain barrier 
between our outposts and Herat is all moonshine; 
nothing more formidable than downs crossed by roads 
nearly all practicable lies between us and the pearl 
of the East. When we won Merv and conquered the 
Turcomans, it meant not only prestige in the eyes 
of every nomad, but the possession of one hundred 
thousand of the best irregular cavalry in the world 
within a week's march of Herat. They have led the 
way to India before; as our vanguard, they will do 
so again.' 

'Skobeleffs idea; but, remember, he is dead,' 
observed Zenski. 

' He is,' replied Dromeroff sadly, almost reverently ; 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


for to him, as to every Eussian soldier, the conqueror 
of Geok-Tepe was a type to follow, a hero to worship ; 
' but others are left to carry out his dream.' 

'It appears possible enough/ muttered the more 
cautious diplomat. 'We overcame more formidable 
difficulties in invading Turkey. The men who forced 
the Balkans should be able to march over the Paro- 
pamisus Downs in face of the Afghan forces, sup- 
posing them to be there at all, without much 

' There is no difficulty,' said Dromeroff, ' for there is 
no barrier between Eussia and India. The tribes are 
the least warlike, and the most amenable to our 
influence ; the country is rich, and the road excellent ; 
we have long given up the old hard track, and now 
can rattle along from the Caspian to Candahar.' 

' Prom my despatches I understand that the mass- 
ing of the Army of the Caucasus in the Caspian basin 
is complete/ 

' The columns that are to invade India,' Dromeroff 
went on, ' will, as you probably guess, march via the 
Astrabad-Sarakhs road, and the parallel one from 
Astrabad vid Meshed. On reaching the Hari Eud 
at Kusan the Astrabad force will leave the Paropa- 
misus Hills on its left flank, cutting Herat off from 
India. Arrangements have already been made with 
the Shah to use the Golden Province as a line of 
advance and base of operations.' 

' And how about the Indians themselves ?' queried 

' They have been seen to. In the bazaars Eussian 
prestige is common talk. Like Shere Ali, they begin 


Digitized by VjOOQIC 


to think " the goat attacks, not the panther." Unlike 
us, as you know, England has been unable to identify 
herself with her Asiatic peoples. She dares not let 
them command her armies as we have done. Into her 
Civil Service they have certainly been admitted, but at 
what a sacrifice. Scorned by the members of the 
caste he has broken, shunned by his English fellow- 
officials, what a hell is that of the native civil 
servant ! Again, thanks to her system of educating 
every villager, India is full of native demagogues 
railing at a Government which has educated, but 
cannot find billets for them. In such soil our agents 
have sown a magnificent crop. It is now ready for 
reaping. The advance of the Cossacks across the 
frontier will be the signal for a native uprising.' 

' Then you reckon on getting the English army of 
defence between two fires ?' 

1 Simultaneously with the rush of fifty or one 
hundred thousand Turcomans and other Asiatic 
cavalry over the frontier under the banner of blood 
and booty, we expect the natives to rise at the rear of 
the Indus to the cry of " Freedom and revenge !" ' 

' Given that the native troops join the mutiny, I 
fail to see what the seventy thousand English can do 
even if massed to a man/ said Zenski. 

' They can die, that is all,' replied Dromeroff, 
adding with a certain reluctant admiration, 'and 
they will. Summed up,' he continued, * we have an 
uninterrupted chain of communication from the 
interior of Bussia to the very gates of India. Besides 
the standing army of the Caucasus, one hundred and 
fifty thousand strong, we can get support from Odessa 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


to Batoum in one day. With the water way and rail- 
roads now completed, we can carry troops from Odessa 
to Sarakhs in six days. On the other hand, the 
English, even with the railway complete to Pishin, are 
still four hundred and seventy miles from Herat. Our 
line of march is fertile, level and well watered. 
Theirs is through a country frequently arid, and 
menaced by tribes as likely to prove hostile as not. 
Twenty days from our present base will land us under 
the walls of Herat. It will take the English forty- 
seven days to arrive at the same point. With 
India disaffected, Persia under our thumb, and 
Afghanistan more or less under our influence, awed 
by our successes, and ever ready to follow the rising 
star, the fates themselves seem to guide our rush on 

'As a means to an end it is admirable,' said 
Zenski coolly. 'Had the pig-headed English given 
Constantinople to Alexander, it would have been all 

* Possibly. Still, remember we are a nation of 
conquest ; and as Skobeleff said, " Without India, all 
the money spent in Turkestan is wasted, and the 
hide is not worth the tanning." Skobeleff merely saw 
in the invasion of India a means of drawing off* the 
English forces while we seized Constantinople, mon 
ami. The same reason remains good to-day ; is it 
not so? But what of my old friend Leroy?' 

' Doubtless his letter has told you all that I can 
say; the authorities at Pekin, satisfied at last that 
Russia is the Power whose friendship is best worth 
having, will put no impediment in his way. Our 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


action during the Corean War in '94, and the late 
operations on the Pamirs, are bearing fruit ?' 

* To a certain extent, yes. Still, there are other 
and weightier reasons. Doubtless the prospect of 
our breaking into India is hailed at Pekin with satis- 
faction as being likely to draw off our attention from 
their own frontier. They, I take it, judge that we 
will hold what we win ; and as it is a richer country, 
they naturally conclude that all our serious expansion 
will take place southward. This practically means the 
removal of a constant menace to their whole inland 
frontier line. They, on their part, hopeless of breaking 
through our cordon, look to Australia as their natural 
prey. To the old Conservative section this idea of 
fresh conquest is still hateful; but the younger or 
up-to-date party, educated abroad and filled with 
the ambitions of the Western world, hold possession 
of the Emperor's ear, and have filled him with a 
desire to revive the glorious traditions of Genghis 
Khan. With all this Leroy has had much to do. Ever 
since, outwardly as an American soldier of fortune, 
in reality as a servant of the Czar, he undertook the 
reorganization of the Chinese army, he has been a 
power. The fact that he played so active a part in 
the Corean War has stood him in good stead, and 
his success in suppressing the late rebellion, and so 
winning the favour of the Emperor for Ching Tu, 
the General nominally in command of the imperial 
army, has naturally also gained him the friendship 
of the Marquis. Fired by the accounts of how his 
countrymen are ill-treated over here — accounts, I may 
say, grossly exaggerated — and aware both by hearsay 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


and personal knowledge of Australia's weaknesses and 
magnificent possibilities as an outlet alike for Chinese 
rascality and industry, Ching Tu has eagerly taken 
up Leroy's idea. Still, such is the magnificent 
duplicity of the Chinese and the colossal gullibility 
of the British officials, that nothing is suspected. 
Outwardly Russia and China are ready again to fly 
at each other's throats. The Eussians are concen- 
trating an army on the Caspian to occupy the Pamirs. 
The imperial dockyards and arsenals are working 
night and day turning out warlike material to resist 
their old enemy. In point of fact, my dear Zenski, 
as you know, our army is meant for India, and 
a Chinese fleet is ready, once we draw off the 
English squadron, to throw thirty thousand men on 

'Leroy tells me the Chinese Government still 
refuse to officially recognise his action,' remarked 

'Yes,' laughed Dromeroff; 'they have taken a leaf 
out of our Central Asian code ; he is only to be 
acknowledged if successful. But it is too apparent ; 
and if he fails, they will find it out.' 

' If he once lands, he can't fail,' said the Count. 
'Australia is to be had for the taking. The keeping 
it, if England survives, is, pardieu, another matter.' 

'With that we have nothing to do,' said Dromeroff 
cynically. ' The invasion gives Bussia a freer hand 
by diverting the Chinese forces, and extends England's 
already unwieldy defensive base. Will you be ready 
for us?' 

'When you wish,' replied the Count, rising and 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


walking to a table on which lay unfolded a map of 

On the map the three great areas divided by water- 
sheds were carefully traced, as also every railway line, 
road and town ; positions also of artesian bores and 
distances between stages were all ticked off. 

* The lines marked red are those which I have 
constructed/ remarked Zenski ; * but all these are 
practically in our hands ;' and he went on, in cold, 
critical tones : * It appears to me that the line from 
Normanton to Hughenden and Longreach, that 
from Normanton to Cloncurry, and the trunk-line 
from Point Parker vid Bourketown and Cloncurry to 
Charleville, can all be utilized for strategic purposes.' 

'They will be invaluable!' exclaimed the soldier, 
keenly following the dotted lines, ' if they will only let 
us make use of them.' 

'They cannot help themselves,' replied Zenski. 
' The whole country is practically held by land-grant 
railway syndicates and Melbourne and London 
corporations : all the properties worth mentioning 
are worked on the tributary system by means of 
cheap alien labour. The white population, never 
numerous, has, with the exception of a few poor 
whites, vanished. We hold by means of our grants 
the trunk-lines, and can transport a force from Point 
Parker to Charleville in fourteen hours sufficiently 
strong to hold it until reinforcements come up.' 

'But how about supplies?' asked Dromeroff; 're- 
member, our attacking force will number at least 
thirty thousand.' 

' The Levantine firm at Point Parker are prepared 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


to supply everything necessary both as regards war 
material and food supplies.' 

* I know that. But supposing our base is cut 

* It won't be,' replied Zenski ; ' but even so, nearly 
all the country intersected by our lines of advance is 
well grassed and watered. Cattle are to be got every- 
where, and sheep are kept in the country round 
Cloncurry and Hughenden.' 

' You are certain as to the water ?' 

* Perfectly. Where there was none our bores now 
provide a limitless supply.' 

'We are bringing no horses. Will there be any 
difficulty in mounting the cavalry?' 

' None; a sufficient number can always be reckoned 
on, and, to put the question beyond doubt, we have 
been collecting drafts for some months, ostensibly to 
open up a trade with India and Japan.' 

'You are to be complimented, my dear Count,' 
exclaimed Dromeroff admiringly. 'On paper it 
appears as though the whole affair will resolve itself 
into a large picnic catered for by yourself.' 

' Bather thank the admirable Sir Peter McLoskie, 
whose policy has made my work a pleasure,' laughed 
Zenski. 'But to return, when is the dash to be 
made ? The last of my work will be complete in two 
months at most, and, if possible, I would wish that 
my Asiatic workmen should be utilized as food for 

' What, Zenski, do you wish to give them a share 
of the plunder ?' 

'No, mon ami, 9 replied the director cynically; 'I 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


merely thought it would be a cheap means of dis- 
posing of them.' 

' Anything to oblige you, Count,' grinned Dromeroff ; 
' three months should bring things to a head. When 
will you be ready to show me over the country ?' 

' We can start at the end of the week, and, as there 
is much of detail to work out, I will run over to China 
with you and see Leroy in person. Pill your glass, 

' To the Yellow Wave !' said the soldier. 

' And Sir Peter McLoskie !' added the diplomat. 

Digitized by VjOOQlC 




Whilb sending Io by rail, as being less likely to 
knock her about, Hatten had booked a passage for 
himself in the Barcoo, sailing at four the same after- 

Johnson, whose leave and loose cash were alike 
nearly at an end, was going with his chum. 

After lunch, while the two men were having a 
smoke over a last ' hundred up,' Mrs. Enson, Edith, 
and Heather remained chatting upstairs. Ever since 
she had been led out of the surging mob by Zenski 
half dazed and nearly mad with vexation, not at what 
she had done, but at the thought of its possible con- 
sequences, Heather had never ceased to bitterly 
regret her folly. It seemed as though she was fated 
to bring ruin on all who loved her. Orloff, the hero 
of her maidenhood, wore for her sake the brand of 
Cain, and now this glad-hearted, reckless wooer, who 
had asked in vain for a love not hers to give, had 
received from her hand defeat in the moment of 
victory, ruin in the guise of friendship. Yesterday 
the result of her action had been put beyond all doubt 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


by the committee's decision. That Hatten had never 
by word or look reproached her — nay, rather, that he 
seemed to think all well lost in return for her ill- 
starred gift — only added new poignancy to her grief. 
His manner since the race had won her respect ; his 
gallant ride her admiration, for, though it was but an 
exhibition of physical pluck, Heather's heart, being 
that of a woman of flesh and blood, went out to the 
daring horseman who counted her guerdon a recom- 
pense for every loss. Still, while all this was true, 
she knew that the man in shadow-land held all her 
love, and so the realization that Hatten had put a 
construction on her tribute to his bravery totally 
at variance with her real motives awoke in her a 
feeling akin to despair. Early taught the bitter 
lesson of self-restraint, and naturally averse from 
discussing such a subject, the girl exhibited to her 
companions nothing save a pardonable feeling of pain 
and annoyance in being the unthinking agent in 
losing for Hatten and others so much money. In 
talking of their friend's departure, the subject of Io's 
defeat again came up. 

'I am sure,' said easy-going, fat Mrs. Enson in 
answer to an expression of regret, * that the whole 
thing was sweetly romantic, but, ahem, a trifle 
indiscreet, my dear.' 

* That I do not see,' replied Heather ; ' it was 
purely my affair, mother, and, but for the conse- 
quences to Dick, I can't see what harm there was in 

This was really the keynote of the girl's character. 
So long as an action concerned only herself, and was 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


in her own eyes harmless, she utterly refused to be 
the slave of conventionalism. Possessed of no par- 
ticular force of character, Mrs. Enson naturally took 
refuge from all her perplexities behind the con- 
venances. With her, to be natural was to be in- 
discreet, to be narrow was to be respectable. The old 
lady, like the majority of her fellow-matrons, was the 
result of an environment peculiar to the British nation. 
' My child/ she went on, 'your one care should be 
to avoid being talked about.' Then, warned by the 
flush that came into the girl's white cheeks that she 
had touched an open sore, she added hastily : ' I am 
afraid both Edward and Eichard lost large sums of 

'Pots,' interrupted Edith. 

'Pots?' exclaimed Mrs. Enson, putting on her 
glasses, and gazing severely at her daughter. * I was 
not aware that they speculated with cooking utensils 
on the racecourse.' 

' Don't you know what I mean, mother ?' laughed 

'I regret to say that I do,' replied her mother 
sadly. * Your slang is a sore trial to me. But if I 
did not make myself conversant with it, I would be 
unable to understand much of what you say.' 

' Well, I apologize, mother !' said the girl, rising, 
and putting her arm round the old lady's neck. ' Why 
is this poor cat so sad ?' 

' There, Edith, that will do ; I forgive you. And, 
Heather, you must not fret about your mistake ; I 
can assure you that everyone I have spoken to is ex- 
ceedingly nice about it.' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


' See what it is to be a pretty woman/ murmured 

' I hope those who have lost forgive me for a better 
reason than that/ said Heather simply. 

'I am sure of it, dear/ interposed Mrs. Enson. 
' Count Zenski told me your action reminded him of 
the days of chivalry, and awoke his highest admira- 

* So I should think !' exclaimed Edith. ' Horrid 
old thing ! Why, Ted tells me he backed Satan.' 

' The Count is a perfect gentleman, and a man I 
greatly admire/ remarked Mrs. Enson with dignity. 
4 He never uses slang.' 

' How do you know, mother ? Eemember, we don't 
understand Russian.' 

'I must confess that, in spite of his cynicism, I 
can't help liking him/ said Heather. 'I think he 
shows us his worst side.' 

'Well, you're both welcome to your opinions/ 
retorted Edith obstinately. ' But I can't endure him ; 
I hate a man — a man — well, a man who swears in 
French. He's always mon-dieuing and pardieuing. 
I wonder what people would think if Ted or Dick gave 
the English version.' 

'My dear/ said her mother, 'that makes all the 
difference. No one has a greater horror of profanity 
than I ; but I understand foreigners of the highest 
rank always make use of such expressions. You will 
remember, Edith, our late cook invariably did.' 

' And he was a count in his own land,' interrupted 
Heather, with a look at her friend. 

' And took all our loose belongings away when he 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


left, doubtless to hang as curios in his Eoman palace,' 
added Edith, as the door opened and Johnson and 
Hatten walked in. 

' If you are ready, I think we will have to make a 
move. It's after three, and the steamer pulls out at 
four,' said Ted. ' Zenski and the other Eussian 
fellow are down below, so we had better take a four- 

Hatten remained silent. He could not help con- 
trasting his own position with that of his friend. 

' Come, on, girls ; 10 us put on our hats,' said Mrs. 
Enson. ' How thoughtful of the Count to come and 
look after us !' 

' If he can manage yourself and Heather, I will be 
content with Mr. Dromeroff,' murmured Edith mis- 

' D these foreigners, Dick !' muttered Ted, when 

the ladies had disappeared. * I believe you're right, 
they're worth watching.' 

On board the Barcoo preparations for getting under 
way were everywhere apparent. Dense clouds of 
smoke poured ceaselessly from the black funnels, and 
a constant stream of baggage-laden porters climbed 
up the gangways. In the saloon Mrs. Enson was 
giving Johnson a bewildering torrent of commands, 
ranging from a solemn injunction as to how he was to 
explain the race episode to Heather's father, down to 
a charge as to his conduct with regard to sundry 
setting hens. Meanwhile Dromeroff looked after 
Edith with an adherence to detail that roused in 
Ted's breast a desire to rescue her, even, if need be, 
over his prospective mother-in-law's body. On the 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


upper deck Heather and Hatten stood looking down 
into the dark, forbidding water. On its inky surface 
things lost or cast away floated in hopeless, purpose- 
less confusion. It seemed to both watchers that in 
some sort below lay sketched a picture of their lives. 

They, too, seemed born for failure — straws cast by 
fate to wander helplessly over the sea of chance. For 
the past half-hour few words had been spoken ; both 
were afraid to speak — the one because she feared 
another avowal, the other because he distrusted his 
powers of self-restraint. 

At last the warning bell rang out, and, turning 
towards his companion, Hatten took her hand in his. 

* Heather,' he said huskily, * am I still to drift on 
like one of those goalless atoms — one of a great com- 
pany, and still alone ?' 

Looking into his eyes, she answered softly and 
sadly : 

' Dick, I, too, am searching for my star ; will you 
bear me company ?' 

It was daring, but it did not miss its mark; the 
man's hope died, but in its stead his nobler self arose. 

' Heather,' he answered wistfully, * I have found my 
star ; and even if in searching for yours I lose it for- 
ever, I will bear you company.' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

[ III] 



Sir John Baggs was both an ex-Cabinet Minister and 
a member of the existing Parliament, and Lady Baggs 
was his wife. Sometimes, possibly, he wished she 
was not ; but, then, wives are more difficult to drop 
than most other early associations. Not that her 
ladyship had not risen to the occasion. In point of 
fact, her expansion had been phenomenal. Perhaps 
the fact that she had seen so much of them in her 
young days had disgusted her with the * lower orders '; 
but be that as it may, her ladyship's arrogance to the 
creatures who remained creatures was now only ex- 
ceeded by her affability towards the creatures who, 
like herself, had become plutocrats. This was occa- 
sionally a little embarrassing for Sir John, as the 
masses managed to retain their memories, which did 
not matter, and occasionally voted accordingly, which 
did. In one respect, however, his wife was a distinct 
advance on the member for Frog's Hole. Being a 
woman, she had adapted herself to her new surround- 
ings, and, so far as the conventionalities were con- 

Digitized by VjOOQlC 


cerned, passed muster as a lady, until one got to know 
her. Sir John, on the other hand, in the first five 
minutes told you he was a self-made man, and in the 
next ten made you wish to Heaven he had failed to 
create himself. 

The arrival in Sydney of Sir Peter McLoskie, 
Premier of Queensland and high-priest of land-grant 
railways and cheap alien labour, had suggested to 
Lady Baggs the idea of showing off her husband's 
costly steam-yacht by means of a water-party. 

Sir John, being largely interested in sugar-planta- 
tions, and consequently a warm admirer of the 
Northern Premier, gladly fell in with the project. 
In his eyes Sir Peter was a veritable champion, fight- 
ing for law and order as against anarchy and the 
annihilation of the sacred bulwarks of ' vested rights.' 
For Australia was practically divided into two hostile 
factions, one of which denominated itself Capital, 
the other Labour. One, because it possessed money, 
assumed that the national prosperity depended solely 
on its absolute ascendancy. The other, because it dug 
and delved, held as illogically that it alone possessed 
the right of shaping the nation's destinies. Distinct 
from, and disregarded by, both these opposing forces 
stood a vast number of people who, in the popular 
sense, were neither capitalists nor yet labourers. 
These, because they refused to admit that either of 
the above classes were of necessity the salt of the 
earth, were scorned by both. But for some inex- 
plicable reason, while viewing with suspicion the 
blatant advocates both of capital and labour, this vast 
section, representing the real intellectual and creating 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


power of Australasia, sat idly by, allowing itself in 
turn to be made the cat's-paw of both parties. 

Eor the present Capital was in the ascendant. 
Labour, torn by a thousand petty jealousies, and led 
by men either wanting in administrative ability or 
unable to hold the confidence of the heterogeneous 
masses under their command, had hurled itself against 
the solid phalanx of wealth, only to fall back broken 
and more disunited than before. The silent despot, 
pitiless and strong enough to lead alone, and un- 
trammelled by the interference of petty agitators, had 
not as yet arisen, and so labour shouted its empty 
threats and shook its nerveless fists, and capital 
occupied both its wind and its hands in building up 
stronger barriers against the day of wrath. As a 
skilled engineer in this work of fortification Sir Peter 
McLoskie stood alone. 

So the water -party was to take the form of a 
welcome, and to lend to it extra significance, the 
Premier, the leader of the Opposition, and other 
prominent social and political lights, among them 
Count Zenski and Dromeroff, were invited. 

The lunch, served in the luxurious if somewhat 
floridly-decorated saloon of the Aphrodite, was worthy 
of its givers. As Zenski muttered to his neighbour, 
* Who better should be able to create dishes than a 
one-time cook ?' 

Edith chanced to have Sir Eobert Blake for a 
companion. Usually a delightful raconteur, he to-day 
started off on his favourite hobby, Eussian aggression. 

'I assure you, we may see them at any moment/ 
said he impressively. 


Digitized by VjOOQIC 


'How delightful!' replied his listener cheerfully. 
1 1 suppose, if they do come, furs will be all the rage ; 
and they are so becoming, you know, Sir Bobert.' 

* You might find the Bear's claw less comforting 
than his fur, young lady,' retorted the leader of the 
Opposition, and then he changed the subject. 

On one side of Heather sat Dromeroff, on the other 
the Minister for War. As McFee found it difficult to 
talk and eat at the same time, he invariably devoted 
himself to the more practical exercise. Thus the girl 
found herself given over to the Bussian. 

Unlike Zenski, Dromeroff, if cynical, seldom let his 
cynicism be seen, and, being a soldier, never neglected 
an opportunity of making himself agreeable to a 
pretty woman. As he had been everywhere, Heather 
soon found that many spots in the older world were 
known to them both. Still haunted by the idea that 
the man had possibly met her lover, the girl felt a 
singular interest in speaking to him, hoping that he 
might at any moment tell her something of the story 
her soul hungered to hear. 

On the right of the host sat Sir Peter McLoskie. 
Stout and somewhat bloated, his face exhibited in a 
marked degree the characteristics both of command 
and fixity of purpose. It was the face of a strong 
man, one who to gain his ends would sacrifice much, 
possibly even that strange, impalpable thing called 
honour. At one period of his career he, like Sir 
Robert Blake, had posed as a Bepublican. Visionaries 
spoke of him as the possible president of a United 
Australia, But that was long ago. To-day he was 
Dictator of Queensland, and head and front of a 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


powerful oligarchy, whose plantations covered the 
North, whose railways shot their snake-like arms far 
into the interior, and whose cheap alien lahour created 
dividends unknown in the days when a white popula- 
tion existed. He was working out his destiny. Figs 
do not grow on thistles, neither could the cap of the 
Republican long sit on a head that might have 
belonged to a Eoman Emperor. He was now ex- 
patiating to Sir John on the beauties of his policy. 

'Socialism and anarchy are dead,' said he; 'the 

unions crushed, and, thank God, we have won back 

the confidence of the foreign capitalists. Trade was 

never so flourishing, for, through our introduction of 

cheap labour, the plantations have at last been made 

to pay.' 

'I am aware of it, my dear sir/ interposed Sir 
John enviously. « Here we are blocked at hevery turn. 
Last session my Bill to enable the Government to 
dispose of our existing railways, and so pay off our 
national debt, was thrown out on the second reading 
by a majority of ten V 

* Surely that was bad generalship T 

' But, my dear sir,' protested Baggs, ' we couldn't 
persuade everybody.' 

' We did. You remember the fuss there was about 
our Land-grant Railway Bill ?' 

Sir John nodded. 

* It was a big fight, but we won. Every man with 
a stake in the country fought nobly for us ; and what 
is the result ?• asked McLoskie proudly. 

'Well, what is it?' queried a Queenslander, who, 
though a friend, was politically opposed to the Premier. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


'It is this/ answered McLoskie, glaring at bis 
questioner : ' We have hundreds of miles of railway 
constructed for nothing, and, thanks to the intro- 
duction of coolies, the labour unions are crushed, 
while the profits from the sugar, coffee, and cattle 
properties are enormous.' 

'And who gets them?' asked the Queenslander 

' The capitalists, of course — the men who make a 

' And live out of it.' 

Ignoring the remark, McLoskie went on : 

.'You should be the last to grumble, considering 
the market we have opened up with the East for the 
Northern cattle.' 

* I prefer not to be living in a suburb of Canton, all 
the same,' muttered the Northern man, one of the few 
left who could call his station and his soul his own. 

' Isn't it possible to overdo this question ?' asked 
Sir Robert Blake. * Clearly understand that I merely 
ask for information. I am sure you know me well 
enough to acquit me of all sympathy with unionism.' 

* My dear Sir Robert,' answered McLoskie, ' prac- 
tically it is only in its infancy. Of its beneficial 
results you can already judge. Eventually all 
Northern Australia must adopt our method. As you 
know, it is already in full force in that part of the 
Northern territory lately sold to England.'. 

< With what result ?' 

' A magnificent one. There, under the old system, 
a territory as big as Spain, France, and Great Britain, 
watered near the coast by navigable rivers, and in 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


many parts splendidly fertile, remained a waste, simply 
because white labour refused to work it at a price 
which would leave a margin of profit.' 

' I always understood the climate was the great 
difficulty ?' hazarded a sporting doctor. 

' It doesn't trouble the Chinaman, apparently,' 
grinned McLoskie. ' The whole country has been 
, taken up by English and other capitalists, and 
Kalmuck, stockmen and coolie plantation hands are 
working it for them. They only want our friend to 
build them a few railways,' added the Premier, 'to 
make it as big a paradise as our own Gulf country.' 

'I am always at the service of the Australians,' 
replied Zenski politely, 'in particular at that of Sir 
Peter McLoskie.' 

' I hope your company will reap as rich a harvest 
as their enterprise deserves, Count,' said the Premier. 
' Be at rest,' replied the Eussian. * I feel certain 
that before long our traffic will increase amazingly.' 

'Is there no danger of these aliens becoming a 
menace to the whole of the colonies?' asked the 
doctor who had before spoken. 

' Bah ! they are slaves/ exclaimed Zenski. ' A 
crack of the whip will always frighten beasts of 

' The Count is right,' added McLoskie. ' From 
them there is nothing to fear ; their natural position 
is in the North. If they are a menace at all it is to 
the unions, and if for that alone we must retain them. 
Once let the coolies go, and good-bye for ever to com- 
mercial prosperity.' 

'You are right, Sir Peter,' said Zenski. 'And 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


what, after all, is the discontent of a few canaille as 
compared with the vast industries and vested rights 
you are fostering?' 

* While I am quite with you, McLoskie, with regard 
to coloured labour for the plantations,' remarked the 
New South Wales Premier, a handsome, somewhat 
Jewish type of man, noted alike for his opposition to 
the new unionism and for possessing the courage of 
his opinions, ' still, there is no hiding the fact that 
your confounded Chinamen are spreading all over the 
Southern colonies. Personally I can see little to 
choose between the two classes of labour.' 

' Then why trouble, my friend ?' interposed Zenski. 
' The Chinaman is cheaper and will obey ; what more 
do you want ?' 

' Nothing from that standpoint, Count,' retorted 
the Hon. Henry Lewis ; * but while I am determined 
that this colony is not to be ruled by labour leaders, 
I am just as certain that the people will not tolerate its 
becoming a Chinese camp, and I am with them so far.' 

'Then we must have federation,' suggested the 
sporting doctor, who was a bit of a humorist in his 

For a moment there was a silence, such as falls 
when a crime is referred to in the presence of the 

1 1 observe, gentlemen,' said Sir John Baggs, ' that 
our political discussion has driven the ladies on deck. 
I propose that we follow them.' 

As Sir John had said, the ladies, and, indeed, most 
of the men, had silently stolen away, and now the 
small group who remained rose to follow. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


' But what about federation, Baggs ?' persisted the 
doctor as they reached the deck. 

' Federation is in the hair, doctor/ replied the ex- 
Minister solemnly. 

Graceful as a sea-bird, the sharp-prowed pleasure- 
boat moved on down the winding river. They had 
lunched in one of the inlets above the Brothers, and 
now steamed homeward past the broken column 
which rises out of the water, whose rippling waves 
have known the swift, strong sweep of many a stout- 
armed oarsman. Now the white monument of the 
dead and forgotten champion fades scarce swifter than 
his fame, and they are moving on with gardened 
villas on either shore. 

As the Aphrodite swung round Dawes Point, a 
Government launch ran alongside. 

'A message for the Premier!' shouted a man 
standing in her stern. 

Lying to for a moment, the yacht again steamed on 
towards the Governor's stairs. Tearing open the 
envelope, the Hon. Henry Lewis glanced at its con- 
tents. On the deck the conversation had ceased. 
All felt that some strange, possibly fateful thing had 

Holding up his hand, the head of the Government 
read slowly : 

( Can Australia supply 5,000 men if needed ?' 


' Viceroy of India.' 

For a moment no one spoke. Then the Premier 
said, glancing at the leader of the Opposition : 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


' What do you think ?' 

' Think !' exclaimed Sir Kobert Blake. ' Act, man ! 
—cable back "Yes." ' 

' Gentlemen,' said Zenski, ' although not of your 
blood, permit me to call for three cheers for the flag 
of the free !' 

Moved by a common impulse, they cheered till the 
stevedores on the ships ran to the bulwarks and the 
men in the boats around them lay on their oars. 
Then, led by Sir Robert, they sang the national 
anthem, and the sailors on the warships took it up, 
and the people on the shore carried it on. 

So on sea and land his subjects shouted, ' God save 
the King V Why, few of them knew, and less of them 

* Will they be fools enough to do it ?' whispered 
Dromeroff amid the din. 

' Why not ?' replied Zenski. ' They suspect nothing, 
and if they did, pardieu, these democrats would sell 
their souls for a star/ 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

[ 121 ] 



Provided with free passes, Zenski and his friend 
travelled north to Charleville on the Government 
lines of New South Wales and Queensland. Here 
the Count and his companion spent a day. As the 
honoured guest of the Mayor, the Colonel was enabled 
without cost or inconvenience to study from a military 
standpoint the position and possibilities of a decidedly 
uninteresting Bush town, while the managing director 
received the reports of his engineers and personally 
inspected the completion of an embankment, osten- 
sibly to be used as sidings for spare trucks, but 
which, with little trouble, could be converted into a 
formidable earthwork. Though not yet complete in 
detail, the line connecting Point Parker with Brisbane 
was in reality open. 

Untrammelled by all question of unionism, Zenski 
had poured an army of Asiatic workmen into the Gulf, 
and these, at a nominal wage, had carried his trunk- 
line silently and swiftly across the eight hundred miles 
of easy country that lay between the sea and Charle- 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Ever since the connections had become an estab- 
lished fact, one inevitable result began to show itself. 
Traffic started to ebb from the Government railways 
running towards the coast, setting in with no uncertain 
stream in the direction of Normanton and Point 

As their reward for constructing this giant sucker, 
which, with its companion branches, only wanted 
time to divert all that produce to receive which 
millions had been spent by the State in building 
railways, dredging rivers, and constructing harbours, 
the combined syndicates had received two hundred 
million acres of the best land in Queensland. 

Practically everything was gone save a strip along 
the coast already in great part held by other specu- 
lators, a few blocks hemmed in by the railway grants, 
and which were being rapidly bought up, and one 
barren, hopeless corner peopled with disease and 
death — the God-forgotten 'No man's land' which 
buries its sun-scorched head in the sea at Cape York. 

Built by alien hands, these railways were for fifty 
years the absolute property of the syndicates, while 
the lands through which they ran — saving only such 
intervening blocks as were not worth securing — re- 
mained the property of their constructors for ever. 

Round Point Parker these enterprising capitalists 
had early secured every inch of ground, and on the 
shores of the Gulf a town had already arisen which 
bade fair to become the one city of Queensland. 
Under the new system, hundreds of thousands of 
pounds once paid by pastoral tenants had gone into 
the pockets of the syndicates. Legitimate squatting 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


was dead. Individual effort in all industrial pursuits 
had ceased, but sugar -planting an& cattle -raising 
flourished ; for the Kanaka labourer and the Kalmuck 
stockman did more for a penny than the white man 
would do for a pound. 

Queensland poured out a golden harvest, and law 
and order reigned supreme ; but the harvest was for 
foreign consumption, and the peace was that which 
overshadows a land whose national life is sinking into 
the depths of forgotten aspirations. 

After a day's stay at Charleville, the Count travelled 
North by special train, his luxurious private car with 
dining-saloon attached being the only weight behind 
the powerful electric engine. 

Lounging in their comfortable chairs, smoking 
cigars from Zenski's special box, the two soi-disant 
victims of tyrant-ridden Kussia followed their course 
on a map that lay spread on a table between them. 
At each point marked as a camp the train pulled up, 
so that Dromeroff might give an opinion as to its 
suitability. But in this regard there was little to 
cavil at, for Zenski, himself an old soldier, had picked 
each spot with an eye both for position as regards 
opportunities for defence and nearness to water. 
Wherever the latter was not naturally procurable, a 
bore supplied a limitless quantity. On either side of 
the line occasional mobs of cattle, horses and sheep 
were sighted, but except these and now and then a 
squat -faced, shaggy -haired Kalmuck stockman, no 
signs of life relieved the dull monotony of the level 
country. At every station Dromeroff noticed with 
satisfaction the presence of cattle yards, while in the 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


absence of English officials, and in the ever-recurring 
camps of dark or yellow-skinned labourers, he soon 
recognised that Zenski's statement as to the invading 
force coming among friends was no empty boast. 

* There will be practically no fighting until we pass 
Charleville,' said he, filling a glass of Chian wine. 

' Not for the column that follows this route,' returned 
Zenski. 'That which starts from Normanton may 
meet more or less opposition at any point, but even 
it need fear nothing unless at Hughenden and Long- 

' Then population is dense on that route ?' 
' So far as the actual route is concerned, no ; for 
our own and other syndicates hold all the land 
between the two lines with the exception of Cameron's 
property, a co-operative settlement, and one or two 
small holdings. Danger, if it comes, will be from the 
direction of Townsville or Rockhampton.' 

* Ah, I see ; there are lines from these parts to our 

* To one of them,' replied Zenski. 'You will observe 
that the link between Hughenden and Charleville 
via Longreach is not in our hands ; but that need not 
trouble you, mon ami: it is worked on the same 

' And what of those between Normanton and Clon- 
curry, and between Cloncurry and Hughenden ?' 

' To be used or left alone as we think fit,' said the 
Count. ' Our lines flank them, and there are not a 
hundred white men in the whole of the district.' 

'Your firm has a splendid property,' laughed the 
soldier, 'and in Sir Peter McLoskie an admirable 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


master. Will not all this mean the old story of 
killing the goose that lays the golden egg ?' 

' My firm is, as you know, indebted to me. Zuroff 
and Sons have a strong credit, but they could never 
have accomplished what they have done, both in 
bribery and construction, but for me; and I— well, 
again I say you know who stands at the back of 

'But how does this fresh departure affect the 
original arrangement ? — China is not Russia.' 

'I admit,' returned the Count, 'that when first I 
had the honour to tender to the Queensland Govern- 
ment, it was to open up a back-door for Russia when 
wanted, and at the same time to present Zuroff and 
Sons with an investment which would enable them 
to pay not only the interest, but also to repay the 
principal if required.' 

'And now?' 

' And now, mon Colonel, China is about to take up 
that which Russia finds inconvenient, and in return 
for the help which Zenski and the Levantine firm can 
give her army of invasion, their possessions are to be 
held sacred — not by private arrangement, for we know 
the Chinamen, but in accordance with the secret 
treaty between Russia and the Emperor.' 

* And should we fail, what happens then ?' grinned 
Dromeroff. ' I am only a soldier, and know no more 
of your arrangements than is necessary; nor do I 
care. Still, it seems to me your firm is playing a 
risky hand — eh, Zenski ?' 

* We can hardly do that ; but even so Russia can bear 
the loss. Win or lose, a blow will have been struck 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


that must further extend England's already weak line 
of defence, and make the Czar's chance of winning 
the Golden Gate more within the range of possi- 

'You are right, Zenski!' exclaimed Dromeroff. 
' But for the glory of the Emperor, I would not lend 
my sword to these cursed Chinamen. We are fighting 
with halters round our necks for a set of dogs who 
would sacrifice us without a thought if they could do 
without our brains.' 

' I understand that the Prime Minister is Leroy's 

' So he may be ; but remember that Ching Tu will 
not be with us. Still, don't think I wish to draw 
back. The Czar asks nothing that his soldiers are 
not ready to give ; and, if we once escape the English 
squadron, we can die for Eussia.' 

'The squadron will be seen to,' said Zenski 
cynically. 'During the last scare they followed us 
about like cats ; they can be taken on another wild- 
goose chase. As to your success, once landed that is 
assured up to a certain point. Here they have no 
military system worth the name. This contingent for 
India will take away most of the officers who know 
anything, and the best of their men. What is left 
is a mob which will be led by men who as a rule 
know less than many of the rank and file. As it 
once was with your friends the Chinamen, a commis- 
sion in Australia is simply a question of influence and 

* The prospect looks promising,' muttered Dromeroff, 
'if we can only depend on reinforcements. Thirty 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


thousand men can't hold a country like this against 
even a mob for long ; they are bound to learn by 

'You are right, Colonel. For physically and in 
point of pluck these Australians are admirable ; still, 
pardieu, when first you meet them, should you be so 
fortunate as to shoot all the paid instructors, the rest 
is easy, as these are indispensable to an Australian 

' In what way ?' 

' Because,' sneered Zenski, ' they so often have to 
tell their officers what to do. These same officers are 
too funny ! For all the boast of Australian horsemen, 
half of them ride like tailors, while a big percentage 
know less of their manual than the rank and file.' 

' You are joking ?' 

' Not so, my friend. The explanation is easy. Most 
of their mounted officers never see a charger save 
the docile animal provided by some livery stable for 
parade purposes. When not endangering that animal's 
ears with their swords, these gentlemen are busy in 
their offices and at their desks. Doubtless they are 
excellent at engrossing a deed or disposing of a line in 
slop trousers; as warriors they are useful only in pro- 
viding cheap and innocent mirth for both their own 
men and the general public.' 

'But, hang it all! you are stating exceptional 

* Possibly,' retorted Zenski. ' It is an exceptional 
service, as you would find if you were in it.' 

'I am glad to hear it,' laughed Dromeroff; 'and 
still it sounds improbable. With the material I have 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


seen, there should be no trouble in turning out a 
first-class defence force ; while, whatever some of the 
officers may do, I've seen even during my trip plenty 
of men who can ride well enough for any cavalry in 
the world.' 

' So they can, mon ami, as you will doubtless find, 
What they call their country troops are even now a 
formidable irregular body, and here in Queensland 
they have still the material left for magnificent light 
cavalry. But what use are these when the system is 
rotten? First, they discuss every item of their 
military estimates in Parliament, and so publish to 
the whole world both their weaknesses and also their 
absurd plans for curing them. They order tons of 
ammunition, and store it on a damp island. After five 
years they get some out, and are surprised because 
it refuses to go off. A local storekeeper in some 
mountain region far remote from a railway desires a 
red coat and sword so that he may go to the Odd- 
fellows' ball as the Duke of Cambridge. He com- 
mands many votes ; to keep them the local member 
of Parliament insists that the safety of the colony 
depends on the formation of a corps at Budgeregar. 
The Ministry must retain his vote, consequently the 
opinion of the Brigade Office is set aside, and the 
draper becomes captain of what with fine irony one 
unfortunate commandant dubbed a Parliamentary 
company. Occasionally Parliament decides that mili- 
tary matters want a thorough overhaul. Then they 
appoint a'JRoyal Commission consisting of a general, 
a retired pork-butcher, and an ex-Wesleyan parson to 
draw up a report.' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


' They are subtle humorists, these Australians/ 
sneered Dromeroff. 

* Without being conscious of it. A few years ago, 
having driven their old Commandant to resign, they 
brought out a man from England who made the dry 
bones rattle. He told the officers what he thought of 
them, and he induced so many old colonels to resign 
that the people, seeing they were done out of their 
fun, refused to patronize reviews.' 

'Then I suppose all you have said refers to a 
bygone age ?' grumbled Dromeroff. 

'Not so, mon Colonel? sneered Zenski; ' they soon 
got rid of him. He trod on too many corns ; he was 
accused of attempting to imperialize the defence force 
with the deep-laid design of carrying it away with him 
to India in his cocked hat. Possibly such was his 
idea. Pardieu, it doesn't much matter ; for now they 
are moving "heaven and earth to do the very same 

' You have relieved my mind, Count,' muttered the 
soldier ; ' he was a man well got rid of.' 

'As you say, Colonel, he was too modern to be 
pleasant. Now things are as we should wish them ; 
thanks to what they call the labour members and the 
retrenchment party, the forces of the colonies were 
never less effective. Personally I admit the logic of 
the poor devils of workmen ; it would be indeed folly 
to foster an arm that might at any moment be used to 
crush them.' 

'To their health, Count,' said Dromeroff, filling 
Zenski's glass and his own. ' Their argument is, as 
you say, admirable; what with the labourer's logic 


Digitized by VjOOQlC 


and the capitalist's want of it, we have nothing to do 
but to take possession and keep it.' 

1 The first is easy/ remarked Zenski. ' As to keeping 
it, that will depend totally on whether England survives 
or not.' 

Leaving Cloncurry behind, on the second day of 
their journey the Eussians passed over the Gregory, 
a beautiful running stream winding through rich open 
plains ; and from there to the Nicholson stretched an 
easy route through open forest fairly grassed. Prom 
the Nicholson, as they approached Point Parker, 
the country gradually became more difficult, thinly- 
grassed box and bloodwood flats, broken by barren, 
scrub-clad, gravelly ranges, taking the place of the 
level lands they had left behind. 

6 The country here wouldn't feed an army for long/ 
growled Dromeroff, as he glanced out over the cheer- 
less belt that encircled the town. 

' Probably not/ said Zenski ; ' but why calculate its 
possibilities? Spero, Aloysius and Co. can get you 
over that little difficulty.' 

As he spoke, the train swept round a curve, and 
there, stretching along the shores of the Gulf, rose 
the vast warehouse of the great Levantine firm. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

[ I3i ] 



Dating its rise from the commencement of the land- 
grant railways, Point Parker now ranked as one of 
the most important towns of Queensland. At the 
waving of the potent wand of commerce it had sprung 
into life on the desolate shores of the Gulf, and now 
both sea and land combined to force its more than 
tropic growth. In the holds of swift ocean steamers 
came all the costly luxuries of the Eastern world, to 
pass from its warehouses into the remotest corners of 
Australia, while on the wheels of Zenski's trains the 
raw produce of the province was carried to its wharves 
for transportation to the older worlds. Sitting by the 
gates of the sea, it bade fair to become a second 
Carthage, with none of that warlike spirit which 
wrecked the older city, but fed by even a vaster 
commerce than was borne into the African capital by 
desert caravans and silken-sailed galleys. Quick to 
recognise the possibilities that lay before so promising 
a commercial centre, and relieved as to all question 
of the necessary capital by the promise of a subsidy 
paid' down in return for certain services to be per- 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


formed when occasion should require, the Levantine 
firm of Spero, Aloysius and Co. opened a branch 
establishment at Point Parker soon after Zuroff 
and Co. began the construction of their land-grant 

With the progress of the various lines, and the 
introduction of a wholesale system of alien labour, the 
industries of the Gulf country took a new lease of life. 
Individualism disappeared both in employer and em- 
ployed; the syndicates daily absorbed more of the 
public estate. Fostered with fatherly care by Barlon's 
Land Bill, they were permitted to exchange their own 
special blocks for better areas, while another clause 
enabled Eurasians, Kanakas, and Japanese indented 
by the syndicates to obtain large areas in their own 
names and hand them over to their employers. 

Unable to compete with the cheap labour of the 
East, the whites, never numerous, quickly dis- 
appeared. Unreasonable when the future was their 
own, it was now remorselessly taken from them. 
Overseers who transmitted unquestioned commands 
to unquestioning toilers had no places open for men 
who might strike at any moment. Work that was 
constant and cheap was what the corporations re- 
quired to make the North a paying concern; so the 
white man was abolished, and ten aliens worked in 
his stead for less outlay, and, all things considered, 
with more satisfactory results — to the absentee 

First in the field, Spero, Aloysius and Co. rose with 
the improving fortunes of Point Parker. Six years 
ago they had introduced the fleet of the Levant 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


and Eed Sea Steamship Company to the shores of 
Australia. To-day their warehouses, wharves, and 
vaults, connected by tramways, stretched in unbroken 
succession along the shores of the Point. 

Their vaults were said to be packed with tuns of 
Chian wine and other products of the Greek grape. 
As to the presence in the lower tiers of other mer- 
chandise of a more explosive and less palatable 
flavour, a discreet silence was maintained for the 

Favoured guests, eminent Southern capitalists, 
patriotic statesmen making the grand tour, Sir Peter 
McLoskie, Sir Samuel Mitson, and others, always 
spoke with enthusiasm of the Mitylene Palace and the 
genial hospitality of the senior partner, Mr. Spero. 

The firm was orthodox and devout in a marked 
degree. They had presented £50 to the district 
hospital, and £500 as an offering to the Church 
of England ; while the Pastoral and Financial 
Association in Collins Street, and the V.E.C., 
were both duly recognised ; in fact, everything truly 
English and in touch with capital was in evidence 
in their carte de pays. 

But nothing was half so English as Mr. Simpkins- 
Thompson, Mr. Spero's coadjutor and partner. 

To-night the firm were giving one of their justly 
celebrated dinner-parties. 

Zenski and Dromeroff were to start in the morning 
for Hong Kong. During the week that had passed 
since their arrival from Charleville, the Eussians had 
taken a run over all the other lines included in the 
scheme of attack; and now, armed with a personal 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


knowledge of the country, Dromeroff was ready to get 
back to Canton. 

As a graceful bon voyage to his guests, Mr. Spero, 
true to his character of a merchant prince, now 
offered them a farewell feast. 

The stranger within the gates of the Mitylene 
Palace would be dull past compare who failed to 
realize that here the influence of money was fully 
displayed and vindicated. 

The surroundings told of unlimited wealth, luxurious 
taste, and generous hospitality towards men of the 
right stamp, the appointments being alike picturesque 
and gorgeous. 

Lines of dusky faces in alternate scarlet and snowy 
turbans stood waiting behind the chairs, each ready 
to serve silently and swiftly the guest who chanced to 
be his particular care. 

On the table tropic flowers bloomed in dainty con- 
trast, amid mimic glaciers of snow and ice, piled in 
vases of aluminium, crystal, and gold. Silver- 
mounted electric lamps filled the room with a soft, 
mellow radiance, while from the space left open by the 
sliding roof, a glimpse was caught of a star-shot sky 
like a painting of the night set in a framework of 
polished pine. 

Through the lattice-work which hung between the 
slender pillars of the eastern end, a perfumed breeze 
from invisible punkahs rustled the scarlet hibiscus 
and deep green foliage in their quaintly-carved jars, 
and shook the rich tapestry and brilliant draperies 
of Japan and Khorasan which, hanging above the 
arches, let in faint murmurings of the sea. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Art and Nature combined to form an ensemble far 
exceeding in magnificence anything to be seen else- 
where in Australia. The cuisine was as far above 
antipodean aspirations as its altar of sacrifice. Here 
were venison and pheasants from Northern China, and 
beside them the dainties of the Bush and the plains, 
disguised with all the cunning condiments of Hindo- 
stan by the cultured skill of a real cordon bleu 
from the Faubourg. Besides these were Bush 
quails stewed in madeira, wallaby transformed into 
a dish of paradise, and desert custard served with 
the royal truffles that come from the banks of the 

Mr. Spero presided at the head of the table ; Zenski, 
always at home in Mitylene, acted as croupier, while 
the bluff and burly Simpkins-Thompson sat in the left 
centre among a lot of jolly fellows, globe-trotters with 
the Carlton Club imprimatur, primrose enthusiasts in 
tiie greenness of youth, quaffing Moet to the Finke 
truffles, and one or two solemn and deferential 
representatives of Sydney mortgage companies. On 
the right side of the table, opposite Simpkins-Thomp- 
son, sat the nobodies in particular : pastoral clients 
under the screw, chance visitors, and overlanders from 
beyond the telegraph line. 

Such stragglers were always invited— the clients in 
order that they might be suppressed and sat upon by 
the ornate talk of the junior partner and the magnifi- 
cence of the surroundings ; outside strangers beyond 
the business network, because they served to spread 
over the plains and wastes the wealth of the firm and 
their great power as capitalists. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Dick Hatten, en route for his ill-starred cattle- 
station, had chanced to drop into Point Parker a few 
hours before, and now found himpelf sitting beside a 
neighbour, who had just come in from the ' Territory.' 
From Donald Farquhar of Deeside, Dick heard little 
to promote appetite. Things on the Eoper were going 
to the devil, said the Scotchman. 

But as that had been their normal state for years, 
and as his own run was mortgaged past redemption, 
Hatten called philosophy to his aid, and decided to 
spoil the Egyptians, if only in the matter of truffles 
and champagne. 

Overlanders and pioneer squatters are used to live 
upon salt beef, Johnny cakes and quart-pot tea ; so the 
glow of pleasure may be imagined with which Donald 
Farquhar found before him, placed reverentially by 
an attendant in a scarlet turban, a grouse-pie and a 
mutton ham. 

'The Dee, the Don, Balgounie Brig black wall, 
the heather-scented breeze from the Braes of Mar/ 
all passed over him with the memories of his youth 
and the sniff of those Highland viands. As Lord 
Byron once felt far away among the isles of Greece, 
Donald thought he had got among first-rate folk, and 
he devoted himself with fervent loyalty to the moor- 
cocks and sheep-shank. Mr. Simpkins-Thompson was 
now addressing his remarks to a Sydney youth in 
elaborate evening dress, who ran a brick wool store 
on the shores of Port Jackson. The wool-broker's 
manner betokened the most profound deference. It 
was not every day that he was privileged to sit down 
with such representatives of capital, and he hoped 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


to extend his connection and pass over some Northern 
accounts to Spero, Aloysius, and Co. 

' Yes, my dear Mr. Hodson,' said Thompson, with 

a real Yorkshire accent and manner, * I assure you 

the thorough English character of the McLoskie 

policy is becoming plainer every day, and nowhere 

do you find that policy so highly approved as in 

Pall Mall, sir, and the midland counties, sir. If you 

have the Tory interest, sir, the county families, sir, 

and the hunting men at your back, you have all 

England, sir, and no other opinion is worth a whiff 

of tobacco. I was in the shires last season ; Hodson 

and I met in one hunting-field, near Northampton, 

nine owners of Gulf property drawing incomes through 

our firm of from eight to twenty thousand a year. 

They had got their estates through our agency, and 

without coming to Australia or putting themselves to 

the slightest bother. Their profits in sugar, coffee, 

and cattle reach them yearly through the Levant 

Company ; while under our supervision the routine of 

their estates goes on, worked by boss tributors from 

the North and coolie labour contractors. We have in 

our books now forty clients of this stamp. Eesults 

like these show the true statesman, and I tell you, 

sir, the Queensland Premier has saved Australia with 

Ws land-grant railways and Asiatic commerce and 


Here Mr. Thompson's fist came whack down on the 
mahogany, making the plates and crystal rattle. 

* England, sir, is the real home of capitalists and 
the storehouse of capital, and the true people of Eng- 
land can count their thousands by tens and twenties. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


I assure you, my dear Hodson, it makes me sick to 
hear the infernal trash they talk in the old colonies, 
about settlement and colonization, and farming and 
other rot. I say with the late Admiral Boggs, the 
founder of Townsville, and the father of the plains of 
promise — I say so with that venerable patriot and 
bank director : " It is capital that must have the land, 
sir, and must have the sea and everything else, sir. 

Squatters and selectors are d d paupers, one and 

both — boil 'em down, sir — wind 'em up and have done 
with them — it's the greatest mercy to such infernal 
crawlers. Let 'em go into the soda-water and billiard- 
marking line or drive a dust-cart, and make an 
honest living, and be d d to 'em !" ' 

Hatten was getting interested in this blatant John 
Bullism — especially the version put in the mouth of 
the late Admiral Boggs. 

' Did Admiral Boggs really say that, Thompson ?' 
he inquired, with a broad grin of disbelief, ' or is it 
only your Eastern imagery ?' 

Innocent of intent as the question really was, it 
apparently struck home with most unpleasant force. 
Thompson's bloated face took even a deeper tinge, and 
his answer, when he made it, was not up to his usual 
form. When his nerve failed, his speech lost the bluff 
English intonation, and savoured of the Lubeck 
steamers, and the Odessa Coin Exchange, and other 
polyglot centres. But being a stout, ^florid man, and 
well up in club and racing talk and Stock Exchange 
jargon, he seldom broke down. In the present in- 
stance the collapse, slight as it was, was not lost upon 
Hatten, who laughed more heartily than discreetly. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Bound Zenski the subject of the Kanaka trade was 
under discussion for the benefit of a new man who 
had secured a plantation through Spero, Aloysius and 

'Mon ami, it is an admirable system/ remarked 
the Count, ' if only the pauvre devils would not die so 

'Is that a fact, sir?' asked the sugar-planter. 
€ Some years ago we sent a lady from England to see 
into this matter, sir, and on her return she assured 
us in the Times that the Kanakas were treated 
splendidly, and were as happy as Sunday-school 

'Doubtless,' laughed Zenski; 'I remember her. 
She was a most charming lady, and, unlike most of 
her sex, singularly modest in the matter of luggage.' 

' Then how do you reconcile your statement with 
hers ?' 

' If you had a pig-pen, and knew the inspector was 
about to arrive, what would you do ?' 

' Clean it, I suppose.' 

' Precisely ; that is what my estimable friends did. 
Pardieu, you English are too comical, with all respect 
to your great nation ; you want to find out particulars 
about a mob of savages practically without women of 
their own, and only able to speak through an inter- 
preter paid by their masters, and you send a woman 
who can't speak their language, and who, if she dis- 
covered half their immoralities, dare not for very 
shame's sake print them.' 

' Then you think the system bad ?' asked the 
Englishman in surprise. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


'Pardon me, I consider it admirable, as I said 
before. They are only slaves, and not fit for a better 
destiny. I am only tickled at the naivete of your 
grand newspaper ; such innocence is refreshing.' 

' Then what would you advise V 

' Coolies, my friend — they last longer ; besides, the 
Kanaka will soon be like the Moa. In twenty-three 
years 48,000 have come to Queensland ; of these 
26,000 returned, about 9,000 died, and 9,000 more 
are not accounted for. They are apt to become too 
sickly for sugar-growing, and a trifle expensive as 

Gradually the guests had begun to straggle out on 
to the marble colonnade that overlooked the Gulf. 
Those who remained were Spero's particular friends, 
men like himself, interested only in the creation of 

Gathering round the junior partner, and relieved 
from the restraint caused by the presence of strangers 
whose tastes were unknown to them, they became 
natural. Led by Simpkins-Thompson, his particular 
coterie vied with each other in the narration of 
dubious anecdote. They were an average company, 
neither better nor worse than their fellows. 

Still, their wit was grosser than that of scholarly 
men, and, unlike theirs, totally unrelieved by any 
suggestion of art or intellectual ideal. But for the 
costly silver, the glittering crystal, and the faultless 
get-up of its occupants, a listener might have sup- 
posed that he was witnessing the jollity of a band 
of factory hands during the dinner-hour. Practically 
such was the case. Most of them were men who, to 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


use the cant phrase, had been the architects of their 
own fortunes. 

For some, possibly, this definition in its best sense 
was applicable enough, with, of course, this reserva- 
tion, that a number of innocent people are invariably 
sacrificed during the erection of any large structure, 
whether of gold or stone. In most cases, however, 
land-grabbing, bogus banks, syndicates, and mining 
speculations, in which the promoters sold the general 
public experience at boom prices, were the chief 
factors in the creation of the capitalists of the party. 
But whatever the means, it was in nine cases out of 
ten a rush for the spoil, and such being the case, 
those engaged in it had seldom either time or inclina- 
tion for polishing the mind while gilding the body. 

So these plutocrats brought their early coarseness 
along with them — not because they were worse than 
other men, but simply because the law of evolution 
demands more time for working out its ends than an 
ordinary life can give. 

After midnight, when the last guest had gone, the 
partners, accompanied by Zenski and Dromeroff, 
entered the cabinet where they held their secret 

' Look here, Bourouskie,' said Spero irritably : 
' you do too much the Tory Englishman. You over- 
act the part. That schimmil with the black mous- 
tache was laughing in your face. What is his name ? 
Hand me the register. Yes: "Hatten, Bichard, 
Boper Biver. One thousand seven hundred cattle 
mortgaged to the Pastoral Finance Company, £2,600." 
Lucky Hodson is here ! Give him a cheque for 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


£8,000, including margin to cover expenses, and get 
him to wire for an assignment of the mortgage. Mr. 
Hatten is not wanted on the Eoper Eiver. See that 
he is turned out quick, and let one of the Kalmuck 

herdsmen look after the cattle. Grinning, d d 

Socialist ! cheeky pauper with his paltry cattle ! Now, 
have you got that down T 

Getting an affirmative nod from his junior and now 
totally subservient partner, Spero went on : 

' Well, is your report ready for the steamer ? Bring 
it in an hour, and I will enclose it to the house at 
Smyrna. Wait a moment, Bourouskie : there is some- 
thing I nearly forgot. Tell the Hetman to get all the 
cattle with cancer and pleuro drafted out for shipment 
to Thursday Island — they will answer well for the 
British commodore's contract. It is easy to sell 
anything to the officers of her Majesty's commissariat. ' 

As Bourouskie went out to finish his report, Zenski 
remarked to the senior partner : 

* Waste-paper, Spero, mon ami, if all goes well ; but 
let him make it out — he is useful, doubtless, but the 
canaille irritates me : I would sooner have a last look 
at your wine-vaults without him.' 

Touching the panelling with his finger, a door 
opened silently, and, taking up a hand-lamp, Spero led 
the way down a winding stair. 

Following their leader along a narrow tunnel, the 
two men soon stood in a vast catacomb of cellars — 
below the surface, but dry and airy. 

' You have a large stock of wine T grinned Zenski, 
pointing to rows of casks that disappeared in the 
darkness of the vaults. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


' Enough to blow the whole of Queensland into the 
China Sea/ laughed Spero. 

' And the batteries ?' asked Dromeroff. 

' Come with me, Colonel, and I will show you where 
we keep them very nice and warm,' replied Spero, 
moving on into the gloom. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

[ 144 ] 





A hot September sun had dropped red as a blood- 
dyed targe behind the clouds piled up against the 
western horizon as Dick Hatten came in sight of the 
head - station. From the coolibahs which fringed 
the watercourse just left behind, the dust-shrouded, 
thirsty leaves hung motionless, while from one solitary 
chimney on the ridge ahead the smoke rose straight 
into the voiceless air. For the last quarter of a mile 
Dick's mount had evinced a fresh interest in things in 
general, and now, as the house came into view, he 
pricked his ears and began to pick up the hoofs that 
for the last few hours had dragged wearily over the 
hard, Mitchell-grassed Downs. Similarly galvanized 
by the near prospect of a spell, the old groggy-legged 
' cutting-out ' horse who carried the swag now closed 
up his distance, jogging cheerily almost abreast of his 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Sitting loosely in his saddle, with bent back and 
with feet rammed home in the stirrups, Dick pulled 
stolidly at his pipe. 

True to his threat, Spero had taken over the 
mortgage, and with it in his possession had made 
short work of the mortgagor ; and now Hatten found 
himself minus even the nominal ownership of his 
station, and practically with no assets save Io and the 
two horses now carrying him and his belongings to 
Isis Downs. As things had chanced, his future 
troubled him little. 

Heather was lost to him, and this being so, what 
fate might have in store had little real interest for 
the man whose one ambition to succeed had been 
prompted by the prospect of asking her to share his 
altered fortunes. 

For his personal wants he had no fear ; a good 
all-round man need never starve in Australia, and 
without any undue egotism Dick knew he was that. 
Since he had last parted from Heather on the deck of 
the Barcoo, Hatten had often thought of the strange, 
apparently impracticable promise to which he had 
committed himself. 

In the presence of a beautiful woman the man who 
loves her is apt to promise much ; nay, if he has in 
him aught of chivalry, she has but to ask to receive 
all that he can proffer — save honour. 

From Dick, Heather had required the performance 
of a task not only hard in itself to accomplish, but 
whose realization could only be brought about by an 
act of supreme self-sacrifice. Many a man under the 
circumstances would have left these wandering planets 


Digitized by VjOOQIC 


to conjoin, or forever revolve in different orbits as 
chance directed. Not so Dick ; he meant to keep his 
compact to his friend, even although his reason told 
him it was unattainable, for his heart dominated his 
mind. This illogical but potent organ urged him on 
his platonic quest, only that in its own time it might 
break in pieces the cordon which, in the unsatisfying 
guise of friendship, held him apart from the woman 
he loved. Like most men, however, Dick had little 
knowledge of his own heart, and so he rode up to the 
horse-paddock gate resolved to treat with Heather 
from a purely platonic base. Pulling up, the latest 
victim of finance companies looked with friendly 
interest at one of the last strongholds of the purely 
squatting class. Eising from the crown of a low, 
rocky ridge, Isis Downs head-station presented all 
the appearances of a small Bush township. 

In common with most of the early squatters, 
Cameron had begun life on the Flinders nearly thirty 
years ago in little better than a hut. This had been 
added to as necessity arose, then deserted for a more 
pretentious building, which in its turn took unto itself 
wings and wide heat-defying verandas. The old house 
still stood, having been converted into a bachelors' 
barracks and smoking-room by its builder, in recogni- 
tion of a sentiment which refused to allow of the 
destruction of a habitat hallowed by the memories of 
the past. At the back of the main building were 
clustered that miscellaneous collection of stables, 
stores, and men's huts, which as a natural consequence 
sprang into existence round the head-station. 

Isis Downs looked strangely homelike from where 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Dick sat, surrounded by the dust-cloud which had 
followed the pack-horse, and now hung in a lazy 
column all down the winding track. The gray jrisi 
walls and white-painted roofs of the long rambling 
building relieved his eyes, scorched with the glare of 
the Downs. As he looked, he caught the faint glitter 
of waterdrops on the rough reed-mats hanging from 
the fa?ade. Behind those broad verandas lay infinite 
possibilities of shade. To the green foliage of the 
garden the sunflowers lent here and there a golden 
radiance, while over the pist walls masses of scarlet 
and purple bougainvillea ran like a flame. Wrapped 
in thought, Hatten sat looking at the scene before 
him till a flutter of wings, accompanied by the 
discordant grumbling of turkeys driven above their 
pace, roused him out of his abstraction. 

Glancing to the left, he saw a flock of these 
persistent wanderers hurrying homeward. Some 
distance in their rear waddled an apparition, monk- 
like in its proportions. The one vestment of calico, 
bound midway by a belt, which served to mark the 
location of a long-since-fleshed-up waist, suggested 
that the wearer belonged to the gentler sex, though 
this supposition was hardly borne out by the heavy 
blucher boots and dissipated felt hat which completed 
the turkey-driver's attire. 

As the birds flew over the fence, their captor looked 
with a certain lazy curiosity at the horseman. 

' Hullo, Maggie !' shouted Dick ; ' how are the hens 
getting on ?' 

'Faix, you'd better ax the turkey-cock!' retorted 
old Margaret, with chilling indifference. Then, recog- 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


nising the laugh that followed, she rolled towards the 
gate, exclaiming as she neared Hatten : ' Augh, glory 
be to Gad if it ishn't Misther Dick, wid a beard on him 
loike a goat !' 

'Draw it mild, Maggie,' laughed Dick, as he 
shook hands with tHe old hen-wife ; ' three months' 
stubble, that's all. How are they all up at the 
house ?' 

' Augh, foine, Misther Dick. The masther's got the 
rheumatiz, poor man ! but, God be praised, the 
spotted pig have the most beautiful litter yer ever 
clapped eyes on. Then the missus is in grate heart 
entoirely. Faix, phwat wid all the clutches doin' 
noicely and that auld Eoosian Count, she's as lively 
as a coult. Augh, an' I forgot Masther Ted an' Miss 
Edith an' the cockatoo — bad cess to him for a crass- 
timpered divil — is all in the best of health, the saints 
be praised !' 

' I'm glad to hear it/ said Dick when the old 
woman stopped. * And Miss Heather ?' 

' Augh, now, Misther Dick,' grinned Maggie, with a 
knowing wink, 'faix, wouldn't you like to ax her 
swate silf ?' 

' So I will when I see her.' 

' Av coorse ; but I mane by yerselves loike.' 

' What are you driving at ?' 

* Divil doubt ye, how grane you are !' exclaimed 
Maggie. ' But plase yourself ; I seed Miss Heather 
in the saplins beyant, and maybe she's there yet. 
Bad scran to 'em, I musht take a wheel out of them 
contrairy hens.' 

As the old woman toddled off, Dick passed through 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


the gate and cantered towards the clump of trees to 
which Maggie had pointed. 

On the further side of the timber belt he found 
Heather. The girl stood beside Io, one hand resting 
on her slender neck. Pricking her ears, the mare 
uttered a friendly whinny. 

The graceful proportions of the thoroughbred and 
the woman's faultless outlines, backed up by a clump 
of flame-clad coral trees, appealed at once to Dick's 
artistic sense; but even as he looked, the cold 
glaciers of platonic friendship slipped headlong from 
about his heart, melted into the consistency of water 
by the warm realities of the picture. 

Swinging out of his saddle, he clasped her out- 
stretched hand, then, as he felt the contact of the 
soft, lithe fingers, a thrill went through him, magnetic, 
passion-compelling — supreme in power, and yet con- 
ceived in weakness. So for a little he stood still 
holding her hand, but saying never a word. Then, 
looking into his eyes, she said : 

' I'm so glad you have come back.' 

But there was no tremor in her voice, only the 
mellow ring of a friendly greeting. What more could 
there be? he asked himself; and yet it all seemed 
such a mockery, for, despite his philosophy, he knew 
that Dead Sea fruit must be his portion, and now he 
further realized that platonic friendship was but a 
poor sauce for such a banquet. 

Heather intuitively understood somewhat of the 
struggle that was in progress, and so, not because 
she was indifferent to his pain, but rather for the 
reason that she realized the cruelty of prolonging the 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


situation, the girl began to tell him of her life since 
they had parted. 

As he ran his hand fondly over Io's mane, the mare 
rubbed her muzzle against his shirt. 

' You see, she's true to her old love,' said Heather ; 
then, noticing the man's cheek flush, she added : 
* I've been riding her every morning lately, and, see, 
there isn't the sign of a sore on her back.' 

As she spoke, Billy, bridle on arm, came towards 
them. Seeing Dick, he remarked : 

' Got back, I see, boss. Fine day, ain't it?' 

' It's been a hot one, at any rate, Billy. I'm glad 
the mare's all right.' 

' Look here,' said Billy in an awed tone ; ' it 
knocks me bandy. According to orders, Miss Heather's 
been riding her reg'lar, and blow me if she's got a 
scald the size of a pin's 'ead on her back.' 

' Then I've surprised you, Billy !' laughed the 

' You've upset my calculations clean, miss,' replied 
the trainer. ' The motter o' my life has been never 
to lend a woman or a sky-pilot a 'orse, unless you 
wants him skinned — prepared for a fastin' contest, or 
ridden to death without interference from them 
cruelty-to-animals coves.' 

' Then you'd give me a mount, Billy ?' 

' Blow me if I wouldn't !' said Billy earnestly. 
' Your hands is light, and you sit square — 'anged if I 
see what's to stop you, barring the — beg pardon, I'll 
look after the mokes, Mr. Dick,' concluded Billy, 
slipping the bridle over Io's head and jumping on her 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Left to themselves, the two walked slowly towards 
the garden-gate. 

Dick had passed the time of life when it is con- 
sidered excusable to allow one's feelings to become a 
public nuisance, so he talked to the girl at his side on 
matters pertaining to all things save the one desire 
that lay nearest his heart. Zenski, he found, had 
been to Isis Downs with a cattle-buyer, who was 
securing large drafts to be delivered at the various 
railway-stations about the end of the present month. 
During his visit the Count had, it seemed, paid con- 
siderable attention to Mrs. Enson, and, as Heather 
remarked, visions of becoming a countess now began 
to take tangible form in the old lady's mind. 

' By Jove, I wish he would marry her !' laughed 
Dick. ' For if things go as I fear they will, it might 
be convenient for you to be able to claim connection 
with the Count.' 

' Do you mean in the matter of free passes on his 
lines ?' laughed Heather. 

* No,' replied Hatten quietly, ' in the matter of 
saving your lives.' 

As he spoke, the girl looked at him with some alarm, 
not certainly at his words, but because a certain sus- 
picion of sunstroke flashed into her mind. 

Guessing what her manner meant, Hatten said : 

' Don't be alarmed ; I'm not dangerous. I suppose 
what I said sounds mad enough, but I fear there is a 
lot of method in it.' 

' What do you mean ? I detest mysteries.' 

* I suppose I shall only confirm your opinion of my 
insanity, but nevertheless I feel certain in my own 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


mind that your friend the Count is well worth 

1 Why ?' asked Heather coldly, for she liked Zenski, 
and rather resented Hatten's imputation. 

' Because he is not what he professes to be/ retorted 
Hatten stoutly. 

' Then what is he ?' 

' If I am not vastly mistaken, a Bussian spy.' 

' Don't be absurd, Dick!' laughed Heather. 'Is it 
likely the Eussian Government would choose a man 
they have practically outlawed for such a post ?' 

' We have only his word as to the banishment both 
of himself and his friend Mr. Dromeroff,' retorted 

' Since that day on the Barcoo, Ted looks with 
grave suspicion on poor Mr. Dromeroff. He seems 
to have made you a convert.' 

* Perhaps from his point of view Ted isn't far out, 
either ; but my suspicions date farther back.' 

' Surely this is petty, Dick,' said Heather. * I 
thought you were above the old English prejudice 
against foreigners. I admit that it seems unfair to 
drive out all our white people for the sake of these 
wretched coolies, but Sir Peter McLoskie is to blame 
for that ; and remember, both English and Australian 
firms, more shame to them, are employing cheap alien 
labour quite as readily as Count Zenski.' 

* I admit all you say, and, believe me, they will yet 
pay back in blood all they have won by this cursed 
system of slavery. Thanks to McLoskie, the North is 
an open door for the first invader who thinks fit to 
anchor in the Gulf.' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


'But what has this to do with the Count in 

'Everything. His railways are worked by men 
who have no interests here, and who, I believe, are 
merely tools in his hands. He is hand -in -glove, 
despite all he may say to the contrary, with the 
infernal half-breeds who have just sold me up, and 
who are absorbing fresh stations every day.' 

'I know it is all wrong,' said Heather, indignant 
for her friend's sake. ' But isn't Mr. Thompson an 
Englishman, Dick? Not that that makes it any 
better for you, poor old fellow !' 

'He's no more English than Zenski. I bowled 
him out at that dinner Spero gave Dromeroff. In 
point of fact, I fancy it was for that very reason they 
took over my mortgage and hunted me.' 

' Then what do you think it all means ?' asked the 
girl in puzzled tones. 

' I don't quite know,' admitted Dick ; ' but this is 
what I fear.- War with Bussia seems inevitable ; the 
massing of English troops on the Afghan frontier, 
and the request for our help to do garrison duty and 
act as a check on the natives, all point to a grave 
crisis. Now that five thousand of our best men have 
gone, what is to prevent Bussia making a dash on 

' But you forget the English fleet, Dick,' said the 
girl in some alarm. 

' They, I fear, will have more than they can well 
manage elsewhere. Bemember, Bussia has France 
at her back, and both their fleets are now formidable 
in these seas.' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


' But even so, don't you think they would confine 
their attack to our capitals ?' 

'Undoubtedly they would make a demonstration 
both at Brisbane and Sydney ; but my idea is this : 
that once past the China squadron, they would throw 
their main force on Point Parker, be received with 
open arms by Spero, Aloysius and Co., and find a 
swift and easy roadway on Zenski's lines clean into 
the heart of Queensland.' 

' Oh, Dick !' exclaimed the girl, convinced in spite 
of herself by Dick's earnestness ; ' and what then?' 

' A fight against terrible odds, with a horde of blood- 
thirsty savages,' muttered Dick grimly. 

' Surely you have told the authorities what you 
think?' exclaimed Heather, now as full of certainty 
as before of doubt. 

'The authorities,' laughed Dick bitterly, 'are too 
much in love with the whole beautiful scheme that 
has made all this possible to listen to me. I should 
be treated as a madman or a fool, who wanted to 
have revenge for the loss of my station.' 

'Mr. Musgrave must have some such idea in his 
head,' said Heather ; ' for weeks past they have been 
putting Fort Mallarraway in a state of defence; 
everyone thinks they are mad, but now I can see 
what it all means.' 

' Musgrave is no fool,' said Dick in a tone of relief, 
' as we may all find soon enough ; but God help us if 
he alone is wise.' 

' That reminds me, the Government have let Count 
Zenski a contract to fortify Point Parker, so they 
must have their suspicions.' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


'Yes, I know they have,' retorted Hatten con- 
temptuously ; ' they are paying him to build batteries 
that will never be completed to defy the Eussian 
advance, but which may later defend a hostile base/ 

As he spoke they passed from under the trellises, 
and moved up the steps on tQ the veranda. 

' Welcome back to Isis Downs, Dick!' cried Cameron 
heartily. ' Thank God, the infernal banks and 
finance companies haven't put it out of my power to 
give shelter to a friend yet !' 

' Perhaps they're preserving you as a specimen of 
an extinct race, sir/ laughed Dick, as he shook hands 
with Mrs. Enson and Edith. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 




Angus Cameron was one of the few squatters left in 
Australia who, after a pastoral career of forty years, 
was able to boast that he had never owed the banks a 
sixpence. When the Act of 1861 gave the Pastoralists 
of New South Wales one of two alternatives, Cameron, 
then a station-holder in the parent colony, decided to 
move on in preference to selling his manhood to the 
banks and his soul to the devil in securing his lease- 
hold by means of dummying. 

Still following out the squatter's true destiny, he 
eventually found himself owner of Isis Downs, where, 
thanks to climatic influences and distance from any of 
the land-grant lines, he was still practically left alone 
both by selectors and the Government. Thoroughly 
long-headed in the management of both sheep and 
cattle, and with neither money sunk in land nor 
interest on borrowed capital to cripple him, Cameron 
had for years been a comparatively rich man. On 
paper, safe investments amounting to £30,000, and a 
net return from the station of £2,000, certainly did 
look paltry beside a Eiverina freehold valued at 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


£300,000, with a rent-roll of £80,000 a year ; but when 
it is remembered that the return from the Eiverina 
property barely paid interest on the mortgages 
rendered necessary to create it, and that Isis Downs 
owed no man a shilling, it will be seen that Angus 
Cameron had little, if any, the worst of the deal. 

On the introduction of the Act of 1861 — a measure 
avowedly to enable an industrious class of farmers to 
settle on the lands of New South Wales — members of 
Parliament who had been elected as friends of the 
landless poor strained every nerve to provide efficient 
weapons by which squatters could defeat and ruin the 
very men they had pledged themselves to protect. 
Filled with an insatiable land-hunger, the whole 
community wallowed in every kind of dishonesty. 
False declarations were made daily alike by squatters 
and selectors. Fraud, perjury, subornation, and 
bribery were universal. Any man who refused to do 
as his neighbour did, or to lend his name to a lie 
when wanted, incurred certainty of social enmity. 
Truth and honour ceased to be considered virtues in 
dealings connected with the public lands. And in 
this fearful wreck of national honour the individual 
squatter disappeared for ever. In his stead shadowy 
syndicates sprang into life from among the festering 
garbage of broken oaths and shameless trickery which 
now permeated the whole land system of the colonies. 
Stations grew larger and fewer ; millions of improved 
acres became as complete a blank in respect to human 
existence and national well-being as a mangrove- 
swamp or a worked-out mine. All signs both of 
family life and local wealth disappeared. Of the 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


thousands of bales of wool and flocks of wethers sent 
off these properties, in many instances not the value 
of a sheep skin remained in the colonies ; as improve- 
ments were extended, both the management and 
labour were economized, so that upon millions of 
acres homestead life was represented only in the 
shape of a meagre cottage for the manager, and a 
filthy, pot-house hovel outside the horse-paddock. 

A well-known land expert writing in 1898 thus 
describes a town in the richest pastoral district of 
New South Wales : ' A Eiverina town frozen in by 
station purchases, with a peacocked paddock held 
in the name of an English loan company at the end 
of every street, and no sign of rural or suburban life.' 

The same writer, referring to the old squatters of 
Queensland, says : ' There are no such squatters now. 
In country taken up lately, the universal system of 
absentee business ownership, the enormous holdings 
in the hands of financial bodies, and the employment 
of the native police, have impressed one common 
character upon frontier relations with the blacks ; 
namely, that of irresponsible, callous cruelty.' In 
Queensland in 1954 the aboriginals had practically 
dropped out of the question. Eum, opium, and 
prostitution had, to all intents and purposes, swept 
them out of existence. All else touched on by this 
old writer had, however, become intensified not only 
in Queensland, but throughout the whole of Australia. 
The bank crashes and universal depression of the year 
1893 had brought land matters to a crisis, and now, 
with of course the exceptions which must naturally in 
all cases occur, pastoral and agricultural Australia 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


lay bound and helpless in the hands of bowelless 
foreign syndicates, who squeezed out her life-blood, 
and gave nothing in exchange save a hopeless race of 
utterly worthless, if nominally cheap, jackaroos, and 
an equally hopeless and cheap, though less useless, 
horde of alien labourers. 

To again quote a passage applicable to the whole of 
inland Australia : r It is certain that in the western 
half of New South Wales it would be impossible for 
purposes of defence to enroll a single squadron of 
Bush cavalry mounted on their own horses.' Such 
was the state of affairs which obtained in Australia in 
September, 1954, intensified so far as the North was 
concerned by land-grant railway syndicates and 
unlimited coolie and Japanese labour. 

As Cameron was his own master, he only employed 
white men ; but while refusing to cut down wages, he 
as firmly declined to be dictated to by the unions. 
Still, such was his general character for hospitality 
and straight-dealing that he remained popular with 
both capital and labour. No swagsman was ever 
refused rations and a ' doss ' in the travellers' hut at 
Isis Downs, and no stranger could ever say that he 
had been turned away from the head-station, though 
many a one discovered that it was far easier to get 
into old Cameron's house than to get out of it. They 
didn't dress for dinner at Isis Downs. As its owner 
said : ' Men can't carry dress-clothes droving, and I 
don't care to adopt the plan of the Bathurst potentate 
who bought up a job lot so that he might be able to 
provide guests who came unprepared.' Neither did 
they provide lady's-maids. On one occasion this 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


caused serious inconvenience to a visitor. This young 
lady's father, from being a draper in a small way, 
suddenly developed into a Southern wool king. Intent 
on gaining an entrie into English society, the eminent 
financier had just concluded an arrangement with an 
embarrassed member of the aristocracy, whereby, in 
consideration of the payment of all his debts and a 
liberal income, the needy one undertook to face his 
relations with the squatter's daughter. The young 
lady, in the course of her ' starring engagement,' 
chanced upon Isis Downs, where she electrified 
Heather by requesting the loan of her maid. 

' I assure you, dear,' said she, ' I don't really know 
how to dress myself.' 

' She never did, poor girl !' laughed Cameron when 
he heard of it ; ' but I little thought that when she 
used to look so dowdy in the store she was only 
working out an aristocratic destiny.' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 




After a whisky-and-soda with Cameron, Hatten made 
off to the barracks. On his way he caught sight of 
four or five men lounging in front of the store-door, 
and, stepping up, looked in. A figure in leggings and 
moles, with his shirt-sleeves rolled above the elbows 
of a pair of sun-tanned, sinewy arms, stood behind 
the counter pouring sugar out of a pint into a dirty 
calico bag. 

' Well, what the devil do you want ?' grunted Ted 
Johnson impatiently. 

'A little civility,' retorted Dick; 'or, if you can't 
supply that, five minutes on the grass.' 

' Why, Dick, old man, I didn't know you with that 
confounded stubble !' exclaimed Ted, jumping over 
the counter. ' Put it there, if it weighed a ton !' 
As the friends shook hands, Dick said : 
' What ! turned storekeeper ? Where's Ewan ?' 
'He went over to the Fort to see about a horse- 
muster they're talking about. Just dodge into my 
diggings, and when I get rid of these swaggies, I'll be 
with you before you can say " knife." ' 


Digitized by VjOOQIC 


As Hatten looked at himself in Johnson's glass, he 
felt that in retaining the stubble, which now stood out 
in hedgehog-like bristles, he was doing himself less 
than justice. Then, as he thought of his platonic role, 
he muttered : ' Hang it all ! what does it matter ? And 
still,' mused Dick, with a fine assumption of purely 
disinterested feeling, ' that isn't the way a man should 
look at it ; heaven knows, women allow us enough 
latitude, in all conscience, but I think they have just 
cause to draw the line at my impersonation of a 
badly-scraped pig.' Following out this train of 
thought, Dick began to rummage for his friend's 

' So that's your little game !' laughed Ted, entering 
the room just as the searcher drew a razor from the 
toe of a Wellington boot. 

' Hullo, Ted ! Fact is, I was too lazy to look up my 
own. I know you don't mind, old chap.' 

' Not a bit,' grinned Johnson, as he pulled his shirt 
over his head, ' as long as you've finished when I'm 
through with my splash.' 

As Johnson returned from the bathroom, Dick 
demanded wrathfully : 

' What the devil did you plant this infernal old 
hoop for ?' 

' Why, what's up ?' said Ted, looking at his friend's 
blood-stained throat. ' Had a row with the good old 
animal ? She's a daisy, if you take her right.' 

' Take her right, be hanged ! The miserable thing 
can't cut, and as to scraping it off — well, look at 

' Man alive, she's a demon on corns/ 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


' So this is your corn-cutter you've palmed off on 
me ?' growled Dick with strong disgust. 

' The fact is, Dick/ laughed Ted, producing another 
razor, ' the fellows have given me such a devil of a 
time boning my razors, that I had to lay for them. 
I'm sorry you fell in ; but, Lord ! isn't she a beauty ?' 

' For skinning a man ?' 

'For giving some of those beggars a love-of-God 
shave,' retorted Ted, as he carefully returned the 
razor to its hiding-place. 

As the men dressed, Dick's treatment by Spero, 
Aloysius and Co. was fully threshed out. 

'I have nothing left bar Io and the two stock-horses,' 
said Hatten. 

' You've been as close to bottom before to-day.' 

' Yes ; but Queensland wasn't a slave province then. 
A poor white man has no show here at present. I 
think I'll cut it.' 

' Lots of time to think about that when we're tired 
of you, Dick,' said Ted heartily. 

'Well, yes, if old Cameron doesn't mind, I'll 
put in a few weeks with you, and then strike out 

While he was speaking the gong sounded, and the 
two men walked out. 

' Under the wistaria, I suppose ?' said Dick. 

'Bather; it's as hot as an oven inside/ replied 
Ted, leading the way into the space formed by the 
main building and the wings. 

During the summer months the dining-room at 
Isis Downs was practically deserted. At Heather's 
suggestion the distance between the wings had been 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


spanned with battens supported by light wooden 
pillars, and over this framework she had trained 
wistaria after the fashion of the Japanese. Under 
this lavender-tinted canopy dinner was now served. 

Cameron, white-bearded, ruddy, and straight as a 
lance, sat at the head of the table. Jovial, self- 
reliant, and hospitable as an Arab, he well repre- 
sented a type of pioneer fast passing away. Opposite 
him Mrs. Enson, in black silk and lace cap, presided 
over the teapot with even more dignity of manner 
than usual. To Dick she already appeared to be 
living up to the future possibilities. 

The two girls, dressed in white, relieved only by the 
silver buckles of the belts that bound their blouses, 
formed a restful contrast to the glistening rotundity of 
the older lady. 

With Edith and Heather on either side of him, 
Hatten felt that, if not with all things content, he was 
at home once more. Having given an account of his 
adventures since last they were all together, and 
having heard in return the various little items of 
local interest which the ladies had stored up against 
his return, Dick asked after their neighbours at Fort 

' You're just in time to see for yourself,' said Edith. 
They are going to have a big horse-muster, and Mr. 
Musgrave wants Heather and myself to go over and 

' The three of you should be equal to six stockmen 
at least,' laughed Cameron; 'only I'm afraid you'd 
talk too much to be trusted with the "tailers" — eh, 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


* From all I can hear, the men are no better,' re- 
torted Edith. ' At any rate, I don't want to mind the 
stupid " tailers "; we'll do the running-in for you.' 

'Edith/ remarked Mrs. Enson severely, 'you will 
do nothing of the kind; you have purposely mis- 
understood Mr. Musgrave's slipshod method of ex- 
pressing himself ; what would — ahem — what would 
the young gentlemen think of you ?' 

' Ewan says the girls over there ride like fun/ per- 
sisted Edith. 

' I fail to grasp the full meaning of Ewan's simile/ 
retorted the old lady. ' But I am determined that 
while I am alive you shall ride like a lady, not like a 

Stepping into the breach, Dick remarked : 

' Your nephew is late, sir ?' 

' The girls I expect, Dick/ began Cameron, when a 
tall, raw-boned young Scotchman walked up. 

Shaking hands with Dick, he took a seat. 

'Well, what news, boy?' asked his uncle. 

' They expect you all over next week/ replied the 
new-comer, with a slight 'burr' in his slow, de- 
liberate speech. ' Save us, but they're building a 
fortification yonder !' 

' Not before it's wanted/ interposed Hatten; 'these 
confounded Eussians mean mischief, or I'm vastly 

'Talking of Eussians, have you seen or heard 
anything of that delightful Mr. Dromeroff?' asked 
Edith mischievously. 

' Not since I had dinner with him at Point Parker. 
By the way, he wished to be remembered.' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


. ' Did he? — how nice of him! I wonder if we will 
ever see him again — he was so amusing.' 

'It's the trade of all these foreigners,' growled 
Johnson ; ' probably your friend is an absconding 

'Edward, remember he was a friend of the Count's,' 
said Mrs. Enson reprovingly. 

' Whatever he was, I wish he'd look us up again,' 
retorted Edith ; ' even a gentlemen's gentleman is 
preferable to nobody.' 

' Passing over your contemptuous reference - to 
myself,' laughed Dick, 'I think I may safely say that 
you will see him again.' 

' You know I didn't mean it, Dick,' said the girl 
quickly. 'I was only talking nonsense; but, joking 
apart, I am glad we are to see Mr. Dromeroff. When 
do you think he will be here ?' 

'Very soon, I fancy,' replied Dick uneasily, anxious 
not to say too much before so ardent an admirer of 
the Count as Mrs. Enson. Then, turning to Heather, 
he asked how they all meant to go over to the 

' Father will drive Mrs. Enson ; and now that you 
have come, Edith and I will ride over with you and 
Ted — that is, if you don't mind ?' 

' Splendid ! You will ride Io ?' 

' I would like to,' interposed the girl ; ' but won't 
you want to put her into work again now that you 
are back ?' 

'If I did, what better work could I put her at?' 
replied Dick ; ' but don't let that trouble you, she is 
not going into training yet awhile.' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


'I'm so glad/ said Heather; 'she and I have 
become quite chums, and she is as gentle as she is 

' I am glad you are so well matched,' murmured 
Dick as the ladies rose. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

I 168] 



The smoking-den at Isis Downs was originally the 
dining-room ; in fact, the only reception room of the 
old slab station-house. Now the worn-out shingle-roof 
was covered with iron and the earthen floor boarded, 
yet about its low, white- washed calico ceiling, deep, 
high fireplace, and broad cobweb-hung veranda, an 
aroma of early squatting life still clung. The calico- 
lined walls of the room itself were covered with 
various sporting prints culled by Ted Johnson from 
English illustrated papers. Spurs, a stock whip or 
so, and an old navy cutlass, all played a part in its 
adornment, while in the spaces left Dick Hatten had 
sketched in charcoal various prominent racing and 
political characters, including Billy the Kid and Sir 
Peter McLoskie. To-night, when the men had filled 
their pipes, Cameron suggested the veranda ; so, 
dragging out their canvas-backed chairs, the four 
settled down to that most soul-soothing of all smokes, 
an after-dinner pipe. 

' What's that you were saying about fortifications 
at Musgrave's?' asked Cameron, glancing at his 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


nephew, a young Scotchman about a year out, but 
who, like most of his long-headed race, was already 
able to do a lot of station work over and above his 
nominal billet of store and book keeper. ' I thought 
the report about that tomfoolery was conceived in 
Billy's brain/ 

' Far from it. Musgrave has one of those " Bees," 
as they call them, working hard at cutting trenches, 
putting up both earthen and wooden breastworks, and 
generally making the place a fort in reality as well 
as name.' 

* Poor old chap, he's mad, sure enough ! What do 
the others think of it ? Do they expect the shearers 
to besiege them ?' 

' From the way they're drilling and pushing on the 
work, they appear to fear something a lot more 
serious than union troubles,' replied Ewan Cameron 

'And they're right,' exclaimed Dick, rising to his 
feet and knocking the ashes out of his pipe. ' Pardon 
me for saying it, sir, but you are all asleep ; you are 
sitting on a mine with the slow-match already burn- 
ing, and so far as I can see, the Mallarraway people 
are the only ones up North who realize the fact.' 

' Bless my soul, Dick ! have you gone daft too ?' 
laughed Cameron ; 'what are you talking about, man?' 

' Listen to me, sir,' said Dick calmly; 'since I have 
been away, five thousand of our best-drilled men and 
most of our capable officers have sailed for India.' 

'Jingo humbug, I admit,' interposed Cameron. 
' Still, it will give the lads a big picnic and a better 
training than fifty camps.' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


' Do you think that England would incur all this 
expense — for, say what people will, her share of the 
cost will be enormous — unless she really wanted them? 
I say, no. Believe me, the probabilities of a Bussian 
advance on India have got beyond the stage of rumour 
this time.' 

' A big war does look likely,' admitted Cameron. 

' To my mind it is inevitable. The death of the 
Emperor has split the Austrian Empire into frag- 
ments; Italy is bankrupt through her effort to remain 
in the Triple Alliance. Disaffection is rife in India, 
and Germany is beggared with her enormous military 
expenditure. All this we know. What better chance 
for France to wipe out Sedan while her ally Eussia 
opens the gates of Constantinople by way of an attack 
on India and Australia.' 

' I don't quite follow you,' said Cameron, still 
sceptical, but with a growing interest. 

' Don't you see that Eussia's object must be to 
extend, and consequently weaken, the English line of 
defence ; in point of fact, to draw every man she can 
from Turkey, her central point of attack ? We know 
that she has been prepared to rush down on India for 
years ; and now that France has given her a naval 
station off Siam, and that New Caledonia is open to 
her as a base for operations against Australia, what 
is to prevent her either singly or in conjunction with 
France from making a swoop on us? There is no 
disguising the fact that both their fleets in these 
waters are now formidable.' 

' You're not far wrong, Dick,' admitted Cameron 
after a pause. ' But still, what have we to fear 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


personally? All this would at most mean an attack 
on our capitals.' 

' Don't be too sure of that, sir,' said Dick quietly. 
'What is to prevent a squadron, who once got through 
or slipped the English fleet, from throwing a few 
thousand men into Point Parker ? And, further, for 
the sake of argument, supposing Spero, Aloysius and 
Co. and Count Zenski were in collusion, what is there 
to stop the invading column being landed in the centre 
of Queensland before the authorities at Brisbane know 
anything about it ?' 

' Good God, man ! what are you thinking about ?' 
gasped Cameron. 

' Possibilities,' retorted Dick, ' which may become 
realities ; and if they do, heaven help us all ! For, 
thanks to McLoskie, the whole of the country they 
would march over is in the hands either of absentees 
or of men who, if my suspicions prove correct, are 
already in Eussian pay. As to the population, who 
would under other conditions form the backbone of 
our defending force, nothing need be said — they are 
all either coolies, Kanakas, or Japanese.' 

' I hate this infernal slave policy as much as any 
man ; still, I can't go the length you do,' said Cameron ; 
'such an invasion appears to me outside practical 
possibilities. Naturally you are sore with Spero, and 
I don't blame you; but still ' 

'Don't misunderstand me,' interrupted Dick. 'I 
have a little score to settle with him, I admit ; but 
what I am now saying has nothing to do with that. 
When last at the Point, I bowled out Mr. Simpkins- 
Thompson ; the fellow is a Eussian Jew, for all his 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


posing as a Tory John Bull. This may appear trivial 
to others; to me, taken in conjunction with other 
matters that have lately come under my eyes, it has 
a big significance.' 

Further startled by this new development, Cameron 
snatched like a drowning man at a straw. 

'But, Dick, the Government are fortifying Point 
Parker, and have given Zenski the contract for the 
earthwork. Surely they are not so blind ?' 

' So far as Zenski is concerned, as bats !' sneered 
Dick. 'They are the high -priests of capital, and 
Count Zenski has laid too big offerings on its shrine 
in connection with the Queensland railway contracts 
for them to dream of doubting so good a customer.' 

' Dick, you are unjust ! McLoskie has his faults, 
but you go too far.' 

'Hold your own opinion, sir, and I will do the 
same,' retorted Dick ; ' all I ask is that you say 
nothing of this conversation, for, even if it all comes 
out as I say, Count Zenski and others may have time 
to make it unpleasantly warm for me in the law courts 
before the denouement. Afterwards, none of us need 
hope for much quarter, if, as I suspect, they will use 
Asiatics for the invasion.' 

During the discussion Ted and Ewan had smoked 
on in silence. On Johnson, Dick's remarks had little 
effect ; he had heard some of them before, and rather 
looked on Hatten as slightly ' cracked ' on the subject. 
On the Scotchman, however, they made a deep im- 
pression ; for, apart from Hatten's evident convic- 
tions, they were in great part a reflex of what he had 
just heard at the Fort, and now, summing up the 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


matter, he came to the conclusion that much more lay 
behind them than his uncle would admit. 

' What do you think about it, Ewan V said Cameron 
as he put his pipe away and turned to go into the 

' It reminds me a wee bit about Pompeii/ drawled 
the Scotchman. 'I think we might do worse than 
move out of reach of the eruption, uncle.' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

[ 174 ] 



Leaving the smoking-den, the four men joined the 
ladies on the front veranda. From where they sat 
the garden lay wrapped in silver light, while out 
beyond, in the horse-paddock, the trees threw their 
long trails of shadow over the ripe dun grasses. 

Skyward, no thought of cloud dimmed the fair face 
of the night, where swimming in azure depths a soft 
September moon looked down from among the 
glittering constellations on a resting world. 

After a few minutes' chat, Ewan excused himself on 
the plea of making up the day-book ; and then, at 
Edith's suggestion, the younger people started for a 
walk, leaving Cameron and his old friend to discuss 
* langsyne.' 

The old squatter enjoyed these chats far more than 
his companion. To him they recalled the one gleam 
of romance in his long, practical life. Talking thus 
in the gloaming, his gentle wife became again some- 
thing more than a memory, and the full strong voice 
now and then grew strangely husky, as he told of 
those days when together they had watched over the 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


wee baby-girl, sleeping in her rude box cradle. At 
such times as these the squatter felt full oi doubt 
as to the future. Strong as he was, he knew that he 
was growing old, and that in a few years he, too, 
must rest beside the mate who had waited for him so 
long in the Garden of Sleep. The transition itself 
held no fear for him — nay, rather the elements of a 
supreme content ; but what could he tell the yearn- 
ing mother of the wee baby she had left for him to 
cherish ? Could he truthfully say that all was well 
with her ? He knew he could not. In the past his 
selfish heart had almost rejoiced when Orloff, its one 
rival, had madly sacrificed himself, and left his one 
ewe lamb to cheer his lonely life. But now, when he 
realized that he, too, must soon leave the child of his 
affection to face the world alone, the old man would 
have given all he possessed to know that she was safe 
in the arms of a husband who would take up his trust. 
Of late his thoughts had turned on Hatten, as the one 
man in whom Heather appeared to take an interest 
beyond that of a mere conventional friendship, and 
little as Dick satisfied his hopes, he yet felt that, did 
his girlie think well of him, he would be wrong to 
oppose a man who, however far he fell short of his 
practical ideal, was in all things a gentleman. Money, 
fortunately, she did not require, and so Cameron 
began to accustom himself to the picture of Heather 
marrying Hatten, and weaning him from his present 
purposeless existence to a more useful life. 

With the idea of Heather's marriage, Mrs. Enson 
was fully in sympathy, and of late she seemed even 
inclined to waive her commonsense objections to Dick. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


In fact, the old lady appeared to be possessed of a 
keen desire to marry off both the girls as soon as 
practicable. The part of these evening chats, to 
which, however, she evinced a growing distaste, was 
that which treated of a period bringing into un- 
pleasant prominence the question of her own age. 
As she repeatedly remarked to Cameron, * The past 
is too painful a subject for me to linger on.' 

Rendered uneasy, in spite of his disbelief, by 
Hatten's statements in the smoking - room, the 
squatter asked his companion whether she thought 
Heather really had any feeling beyond mere friend- 
ship for Dick. 

'Heather is a puzzle to me, Angus/ replied the 
old lady ; ' sometimes she speaks of Richard in a way 
which leads me to suppose she has, and then, when 
I suggest such a thing, she looks so utterly surprised 
that I am forced to the conclusion that I have been 
mistaken. What do you think yourself ?' 

' My dear Prudence, I don't know anything about 
women,' exclaimed Cameron. 

' Few men do,' sighed Mrs. Enson. 

' How about the Count ?' asked Cameron slyly. 

' Ah, he is a man of fine discernment,' murmured 
Mrs. Enson. ' Now, he says Heather has never for- 
gotten that dreadful young man Orloff.' 

* Does he ?' muttered Cameron. ' I remember 
Zenski and he were great friends.' 

* Yes, poor Count ! that is one of his biggest regrets ; 
he says he was never so deceived in any man.' 

'He seems to take you more into his confidence 
than most people,' hazarded Cameron* 


by Google 


* He tells me everything,' said Mrs. Enson, adding 
coyly : 4 He calls me his affinity/ 

' The deuce he does !' 

' Ah, yes ; to me all his plans are confided, all his 
hopes for the future of this his adopted land ex- 

' Indeed !' drowsily. 

' I sometimes think I may be a little old.' 

' Nonsense !' muttered her companion sleepily. 
'Let me see, you were twenty -seven when you 
married Enson, and he's dead about twenty-five 
years : that would make you a trifle over fifty, 
Prudence. Why, you're good for another twenty 
years yet.' 

' Angus, what do you mean ?' gasped Mrs. Enson. 
* Your memory must be failing.' 

' Tut, tut ! of course, now I remember, you were 

' I was barely twenty,' retorted Mrs. Enson with 
dignity. * I don't care about myself, for, thank good- 
ness, my appearance bears out the truth ; but I am 
surprised at your attempting to make the poor girls 
older than they really are.' 

'Well, I apologize,' muttered Cameron, his voice 
thick with sleep ; * what does it matter how old you 
are if you feel young ?' 

* It's all for the Count's sake,' simpered Mrs. Enson. 
* Angus, I feel I should confide in you as my oldest 
friend. The Count has told me he is lost without a 
companion. Whenever he is near me I feel his eyes 
are resting on my face ; when I suggest a younger 
girl he tells me fruit must be ripe before it satisfies 


Digitized by VjOOQIC 


the palate of an epicure. Now, how would you 
interpret this charming allegory ?' 

For reply a deep snore came out of the recesses of 
Cameron's chair. 

' Soulless creature !' snapped Mrs. Enson, rising 
and walking indignantly past the sleeping squatter. 

While the conversation on the veranda was going on, 
the two girls and their companions strolled on in the 
moonlight. At first they kept together, but once 
through the garden-gate, Ted and Edith fell behind. 
For a time Johnson maintained a morose, not to say 
cynical, attitude towards the world in general, which 
keenly amused his companion. Knowing her lover 
as she did, his pessimistic utterances sounded about as 
real as the thunder of a stage storm. 

' Look here, Ted,' said she at last ; ' I know what 
it's all about, and I apologize. I don't care if Mr. 
Dromeroff is in Siberia.' 

' I hope he is,' growled Johnson fervently. 
' Don't be a goose ! why shouldn't I like him if I 

M detest foreigners,' retorted Johnson somewhat 

* Well, on the whole I agree with you,' laughed the 
girl, ' so let us make it up.' 

At first Ted stood on his dignity, but in the end, as 
generally followed, she twisted him round her well- 
shaped little finger, and he humbly asked to be forgiven 
who but a few minutes before had grave doubts about 
granting forgiveness. 

Then they talked about the future as true-hearted 
lovers do, and builded their little castles of pleasure 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


with the good old fatuous faith which has obtained 
since the world began. 

' Your mother was so nice to me when I talked to 
her of our wedding the other day, Edith,' said Ted 
as they turned aside and walked towards the river- 
bank. ' I believe she'll be really glad to see us 

' I'm sure she will/ retorted Edith a little sadly. 

* Do you know, Ted/ she went on, almost in a whisper, 

* I'm afraid the dear old mother is going to make a 
fool of herself.' 

' Why, has she bought scrip ?' exclaimed Ted. 

* Worse than that.' 

This was a * staggerer/ for Johnson understood 
Australian mining morality, and anything worse than 
falling into the hands of a mining broker nonplussed 
him. At last he said with awed hesitancy : 

* She has not taken to drink ?' 

' No, you old stupid !' cried the girl, laughing in 
spite of herself at Ted's expression of concern. 

* Then what has she done ?' demanded the manager. 

* She's fallen in love with that horrid old Count 
Zenski, or thinks he's fallen in love with her. Isn't 
it awful, Ted ?' 

* Oh, is that all ?' laughed Johnson. Being in love 
himself, he felt thoroughly cosmopolitan on the 

* It's too much : I won't have the hateful old thing 
for a stepfather, so there ! And besides, I feel sure he's 
only making a fool of the mater, and that's worse. 
Oh, the whole thing is too ridiculous !' exclaimed 
Edith, stamping her foot. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


' Well, if what you say is a fact, you won't have him 
for a father, that's certain,' grinned Ted. 

' Don't make fun of it ; it makes me vexed enough 
to cry ; the mater's over fifty, and her hair is growing 
darker every week, and now she wants to take up 
tennis and riding again.' 

' If all Dick says is true, she might do worse than 
marry the Count/ blurted out Johnson. And then, 
despite Hatten's request of silence, he allowed himself 
to be pumped dry. The following day, during a 
passage of arms with her mother on the subject of the 
Count, Edith forgot her promise of secrecy, and so in 
due course Zenski heard Dick's opinion of him. 

Not noticing the loss of their companions, Heather 
and Dick walked on as by a common consent in the 
direction of the clump of coral-trees. Questioned as 
to his future plans, Dick told her of his proposed trip 
out West. 

* Here there is no chance for a man, and if there 
were, I can't bear the idea of settling down to the 
hopeless monotony of a super's life,' said he. * I feel 
I must have action, or I shall rot. Some time ago I 
read in Favenc's book of the possibility of rich country 
in the heart of what they call the Great Desert. As 
Favenc says, these flying camel trips have been 
practically useless, and if Major Warburton was right 
about wild geese flying over his camps, then it follows 
that there must be water somewhere in the heart of 
Western Australia.' 

'And you mean to try and find it, Dick?' said 

' 1 do. Billy, I know, will go with me, and with him 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


and a couple of black boys who know the country, I 
mean to succeed on horseback where these camel 
expeditions have failed.' 

As he ended, they reached the flame trees, now 
flooded with the moonlight, and looking into the dark, 
firm face, dignified with the majesty of a strong 
resolve, Heather realized that she had misjudged him. 
He might have once been weak ; to-night she dis- 
covered that he could also be strong. 

To her there was something heroic in this wild 
quest. It appealed to her as a deed attempted amid 
all the alluring pageant of war could never have done. 
He was about to attempt the noblest form of physical 
adventure, exploration, and her heart went out to him 
standing there hopeless and penniless, but still 
determined to play his part fearlessly and well. 

Then the vision of the dangers he was about to face 
rose before her. 

* Dick, think well/ said she ; ' what if you never 
find the water?' 

' I will do my best,' he answered simply. 

'You will die !' she exclaimed, and a note of self- 
reproach rang through each word. ' Dick, this is no 
time for false shame. I feel that could I have given 
you another answer you would never have thought of 
this mad expedition. Is it not so ?' 

' It is/ he answered huskily. 

She looked so fair, with the moonbeams revelling 
among her radiant hair, that his strength forsook him, 
and he spoke the truth when he felt a lie would have 
been more noble. 

For a little there was silence. He had answered 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


not as she hoped, and still as she expected. Then 
ahe spoke slowly and as if in pain : 

* You know I love another man — you have promised 
to help me find him — and so you must know that my 
love is not mine to give.' 

' Heather,' he interrupted, ' for God's sake don't let 
this phantom stand between us. Orloff can never 
come back to you : do you think that if he were alive 
he would have sent no message ? My love, do not let 
this cold, impalpable presence hold us apart for ever.' 

She knew that even if Orloff were dead his love was 
still alive, and so at last she said : 

* Mad, unreasonable as it may seem to you, Orloff 
holds me bound by ties which even the grave cannot 

* Let me but have you here, and I will give you to 
him in the world beyond if it is your desire,' he 
pleaded in a voice of passionate appeal. 

'I cannot,' she answered strangely. 'Dick, you 
are too much of a man to ask me to betray both of us 
with a lie.' 

Then, as he was about to speak, she cried in a voice 
of despairing bitterness : 

* Believe me, I am not worthy of your love V 

He knew that all was over ; that the one pure 
passion of his wandering, reckless life could never 
wake responsive fire in the heart of the woman who 
stood beneath the flame-clad corals, so full of pity 
that she hated herself because she could not love. 

Looking into her face, he said slowly : ' Now I 
know that I have no hope.' Then, with terrible 
earnestness,: 'But this I swear: Could one so pure 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


as you have by any strange mischance become in 
the eyes of the world unworthy of a passion such 
as mine, even had some sin cut you off from all 
human kind, my love would have bridged the gulf.' 

In this supreme moment, when unconsciously 
Hatten spoke as though he knew of her sorrow, and 
in the same breath let her see that even had it been a 
sin he yet would forget all for her sake, Heather's 
heart went out to him. 

* Forgive me,' she faltered, overcome by the grandeur 
of his passion ; * I know that I am cruel and ungrateful, 
but, Dick, I can't be false to you — to my own heart. 
I do love you, but not in the way you wish. Surely, 
when your love is so noble, you can give it to me in 
the sacred name of friendship ?' 

' I love as a man,' said Hatten slowly, ' and you 
have again asked a hard thing of me; still, for my 
love's sake be it so. I accept your friendship as a 
more precious gift than the love of other women.' 

Taking her hand in his, he kissed it, as, stepping 
from under the coral-trees' red flame, they walked 
homeward through the moonlit paddock. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

[i8 4 ] 



Professor Jansen had been a well-known figure on 
the northern coasts of Australia for some months. 

He was both philosopher, naturalist, musician, and 
litterateur ; but as he travelled en prince, and gave 
excellent whist and dinner parties on board his 
rakish, slate-coloured steam -yacht, his intellectual 
fads were forgiven. A poor man possessed of the 
Protestor's inquisitive, not to say prying, disposition 
would probably have been arrested as a spy. In his 
case, however, the eccentricity of genius was the name 
given to his investigating habits by the leading men 
who enjoyed his hospitalities. As he was apparently in 
no need of financial help, Sir Peter McLoskie had 
lately appointed him to draw up a report on Pearl- 
shell and Beche-le-mer, so that the Professor, apart 
from his standing as a man of means, now commanded 
an official recognition as well. 

Through the medium of irreproachable cigars and 
unlimited whisky -and -seltzer, Jansen had made a 
bosom companion of Mr* Peter Smith, Post -Office 
Inspector for the Government of Queensland, and 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


through that somewhat bibulous official possessed 
the run of all the local post-offices. The Professor's 
knowledge of telegraphy was indeed remarkable, as 
he had proved on more than one occasion, when the 
local line-repairers and operators were nonplussed. 

Though, as a Finlander, a subject of Eussia, being 
a philosopher, the Professor looked with contempt 
alike on a Czar who risked explosion for the sake of 
power, and on the Nihilists who courted death in an 
attempt to overturn one tyrant only that another 
might be set up. So to his well-balanced mind the 
fairness of British rule appeared incontrovertible, 
particularly that part of it immediately presided over 
by Sir Peter McLoskie. 

Being a man of artistic tastes and manner of life, 
the ornate splendour of the Levantine firm of Spero, 
Aloysius and Co. rather repelled him, while with 
Zenski, the great contractor, he professed to hold 
little in common. 

Speaking of these commercial magnates, he was 
once heard to declare: * While trade is doubtless 
admirable, I hold the right to buy supplies and 
railway-tickets without fraternizing with their vendors.' 
And the men who listened, all traders themselves, 
laughed loud and long at the distinguished visitor's 
admirable logic. Of late the Professor had spent 
most of his time on the pearlshell ground near 
Thursday Island, but, as it happened, on the day 
after Hatten's arrival at Isis Downs, he and Zenski 
met at one of the hotels in Normanton. During the 
progress of the table d'hote meal Jansen and the 
Count took little notice of each other, but, neverthe- 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


less, about ten o'clock that night a visitor came on 
board the yacht, who, on being shown into the cabin, 
threw aside his slouched hat and cloak, and, slapping 
the Professor on the shoulder, remarked, * Well, what 
news, mon brave V 

Eegarded physically, Jansen hardly bore out the 
title. There was, in fact, nothing warlike about his 
rather stooped figure, while the face, covered with a 
straggling, ill-kept beard, and further hidden by a 
pair of omnipresent glasses, gave little promise of a 
martial spirit. 

Lady admirers said he was so artistically negligent ; 
men with no soul for genius dubbed him confoundedly 
dirty. The Professor himself remained impervious to 
all criticism. He candidly admitted that the one 
cold of his life was caused by his falling into the 
water ; his appearance vouched for the fact that he 
had since avoided any such accident. 

Bather wincing under his visitor's touch, Jansen 
pointed to a chair, saying, as he pushed a box of 
cigars within reach : 

' You grow too English, Zenski But I am glad to 
see you ; there is much to talk over.' 

Lighting a cigar, the Count leant back lazily. 

' We are ready,' said he. ' Pardieu, I hope no hitch 
occurs. If it does, we will have a nice lot of horse- 
flesh and cattle on hand. Besides, I hear these co- 
operative canaille grow suspicious, and you know how 
that spreads.' 

' What matter ; up North, at least, it will have no 
brains to feed on. We are among our own people,' 
sneered Jansen. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


* You forget all we risk,' retorted Zenski. 

' Not I ; and, what is better, I can show you there 
is no risk. Leroy is ready, and, if all goes well, his 
fleet will be in the Gulf by the end of the month. I 
will see that you know to a day in ample time.' % 

' How about the cables ?' 

' That I will see to. Thanks to Monsieur Smith, I 
am in touch with all their system, and can tap where 
I require.' 

' Have operations commenced yet ¥ 

' They have. The Eussian advance on India is an 
established fact by now. The Franco-Bussian fleets 
have only to draw away what is left of the China 
squadron, and the road lies open.' 

* When are the cables to be cut ¥ 

' All but the one from New Caledonia will be seen 
to next week.' 

' How about the attack on Hong Kong ?' 

* It is to be made simultaneously with the sailing of 
Leroy's expedition.' 

'Don't forget the overland line from Thursday 

' Never fear, my friend ; it will be tapped.' 

' I wonder if they will swallow our cables via New 
Caledonia ?' grinned Zenski. 

' Poor devils ! what choice have they ¥ replied 
Jansen. * All other communications will be cut off ; 
and, after all, we will only cable that which is likely 
to happen.' 

* Set them on the qui vive all round the Southern 
coasts; we must keep their forces scattered at any 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


' The flying squadron now lying in Noumea will see 
to that ; all you have to do is to land General Leroy 
and his savages in the centre of Queensland, mon 
Zenski,' chuckled the Professor, as his companion 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

[ i8g ] 



Fort Mallarraway was an organization of recent 
growth. In reality it was a product of the conflicts 
between capital and labour, and it would not be 
incorrect to describe the basis of this institution as 
' co-operative settlement.' At the same time, the 
aspects of the organization were manifold, and to call 
Fort Mallarraway a co-operative station would be as 
incorrect as to describe the Knights Templars as a 
benefit society. The association combined originally 
the functions of a club, a joint-stock company, and a 
co-operative body. The times were fast turning it 
also into a social and military power. Disgusted with 
existing social conditions, a hundred men belonging 
to that class who stand midway between capital and 
labour, and who set more store by brains than either 
money or muscle, had put ^£100 apiece into a common 
fund. With part of this sum they purchased Afton 
Downs, an immense pastoral property which had fallen 
into the hands of a financial company. Thanks to 
general mismanagement and the depression of 1893, 
the syndicate was glad, after getting rid of everything 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


salable, to dispose of the bare country for a nominal 
sum to close the account. 

Once in possession, the new owners drew up a 
constitution. The settlement was governed by a 
committee of three, controlled by a President, and 
elected by ballot to hold office for twelve months. 
Besides the executive, sub-committees to deal with the 
various duties of the settlement were appointed. 
These had to submit their reports to the central 
authority. To further expedite work, a combination 
named the ' Bee ' was instituted. Whatever a man's 
special work was, as soon as a Bee was announced, he 
dropped his stockwhip or his hammer or his pencil, 
and hurried to the spot where the general muster was 
proclaimed. These Bees were determined upon by 
the executive committee, but never except upon suffi- 
cient grounds. No member, however, was exempted 
from attending except for obviously necessary reasons, 
so that after such reductions from their strength, the 
executive could always throw a body of sixty or seventy 
men on any spot where the emergency existed. These 
Bees told in keeping up wholesome good-fellowship 
and club feeling, for when the President was often 
seen driving a plough, and his confreres of the execu- 
tive yoking a team of rowdy steers or handspiking a 
log, the rest of the members had practical illustration 
of the fact that in both work and profit the principle 
was share and share alike. 

Official salaries and fees were rigidly tabooed, so 
that as each man held a full equal share as a pro- 
prietor, his pride and interest reconciled him to any 
work he had to take in hand. The question of unequal 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


brain-power was easily met. It was laid down that if 
a man did contribute to the common fund the work of 
his brains as well as of his hands, he gained immensely 
more than he contributed by the voluntary work of 
the ninety-nine other brains concerned. The con- 
ditions of original membership were simple in the 
extreme, the subscription being £100 cash down, and 
the time of service five years. The shares were non- 
transferable at the end of that period, except to the 

When the pioneers took possession of Afton Downs, 
they turned the old station-house into a species of 
club, and this became the central camp of the asso- 
ciation. Soon after the commencement of operations, 
a limestone grit was discovered in the bed of a creek, 
and from it a splendid artificial stone was cast in 
moulds. Now, after a lapse of nine years, the new 
club-house, and most of the members' cottages which 
clustered round it, were all built of this marvellous 
concrete. At the end of the first five years a recon- 
struction became necessary at Fort Mallarraway. The 
shares of the original proprietors who had completed 
their term of service remained their unincumbered 
property, to be devised by will, or at their death to be 
inherited by their next-of-kin. In order to carry on 
the work they had begun, the club as a body decided 
to adopt one hundred apprentices, to be balloted for 
by the shareholders. These apprentices, distinguished 
as ' No. 2,' were bound under articles to serve for five 
years, and at the end of that time all who were 
qualified by a certificate of good service were to be 
incorporated, and to receive a subsidy in the form of 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


live stock, working plant, and necessaries to enable 
them in their turn to form a new ' co-operative settle- 
ment.' This new arrangement was agreed upon on 
January 1, 1950, and so far as the work was con- 
cerned, there was every prospect of things going on 
well, but how to meet household wants puzzled the 
executive. The ladies of the club ended the matter. 
With their girls and boys, they professed themselves 
ready to take over all domestic arrangements, the 
only stipulation they made being that * No. 2 ' should 
live barrack fashion and attend to their own quarters 
themselves, of course taking their places at the com- 
mon tables, which were free to them as they were to 
their predecessors. 

Fort Mallarraway got little goodwill either from 
capital or labour. The representatives of finance 
invariably pourtrayed the members as a mob of 
paupers trying to make a living in a manner adverse 
to the interests of capital, and they had expected for 
years to see the 'concern' forced into the market 
and sold for a song. Nevertheless, the club went on 
without their property appearing in any list of mort- 
gages. The stony Downs on the Afton, forty miles 
across, kept sheep and bred horses in a manner not 
equalled by any of the pastoral syndicates in the 
North, while the open flats and valleys of the main 
river, besides carrying a herd of model Devons, showed 
a seemingly boundless extent of irrigated cultivation. 
With no mortgagee to satisfy and no wages to pay, 
the owners of Afton Downs were equally independent 
of the Government, the banks, and the labour unions. 

Starting at daybreak, the Iris Downs people neared 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


the Port, so called from the strategic nature of its 
surroundings, at about eight o'clock. Cameron and 
Mrs. Enson occupied a hooded buggy drawn by a pair 
of half-breds, who on occasion did duty as wheelers 
in the light four-wheeled waggon which served as a 
drag. The two girls, accompanied by Ted and Dick, 
rode as before arranged, while Billy and a couple 
of stockmen and a black boy brought up the rear- 

As the party moved on over the broken, lightly- 
grassed Downs, cut here and there with deep, rock- 
bound ravines, the white buildings of the Fort rose 
above the plain, glistening in the morning sun. Built 
on the crest of a strong stony ridge, from a distance 
they presented all the appearances of a well-appointed 
and admirably situated fortress. 

When about half a mile from the basalt eminence 
on which the buildings stood, Hatten and his com- 
panions caught sight of a swarm of men clustered 
round some bullock teams, a steam locomotive, and 
machinery of various kinds. At first Dick was puzzled 
to comprehend the nature of the work in progress, 
then, guided by his old military experience in the 
militia, it flashed on him that the lines of strong 
fencing with sq^id block houses at the gates and 
angles, backed by deep trenches, formed part of those 
fortifications of which Ewan had spoken. Before 
him rose a line of iron-bark and box logs, set after 
the fashion of a Maori pah, and as he rode up under 
them, he noticed that the outer line stood between 
two trenehes, and that the stakes, while loose at the 
bottom, were securely bound together by chains along 


Digitized by VjOOQIC 


the top. Higher up, the square, loopholed, concrete 
cottages afforded excellent cover for riflemen. 'It's 
ingenious,' mused Dick admiringly. * This palisade, 
while letting balls through without injury to itself, 
should stop any rush if well defended.' 

* Dick Hatten, by Jingo !' said a voice near him. 
' Why, where the deuce have you sprung from ?' and 
a man whom he had not noticed walked up, and, 
raising his hat to the ladies, greeted him warmly. 

' Thank you, Nugent. What's up ? are you going 
to muster ?' grinned Dick. 

'I believe you. There will be a muster, but we 
want to keep them out this time.' 

* I think we will ride on, Dick,' said Heather, who 
had realized all through the ride how painful the 
situation was for both of them. * I know you have a 
lot to say to Mr. Nugent.' 

As his companions cantered off, Dick dismounted. 

* Wait a minute, old chap, and I'll go up with you,' 
said Nugent, turning to supervise the opening of a 
new trench. 

A little later, as they walked on together, the 
Mallarraway man again asked what had brought 
Dick back. 

'I had a row with Spero, Aloysius and Co., and 
they got an assignment of my mortgage from the 
Pastoral Finance Company, and have turned me out. 
I expect some Kalmuck super is in possession now,' 
replied Hatten bitterly. 

' They'll turn every white man out of Queensland, 
if we don't look out !' exclaimed Nugent. ' But, by 
G — ! we mean to give them a hard nut to crack.' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


* So I see. You must be spending a small fortune 
over these works.' 

'Fortune! why, we are not spending a penny. 
Well, I suppose work does cost money. In our case, 
however, it costs nothing to speak oi. All you see 
going on here has been worked out on paper for some 
time. I got an official note yesterday appointing me 
captain of the Bee, and the papers handed me con- 
tained complete directions; all that I am carrying 
out is the mechanical part. Any donkey who has 
hands and eyes can do that. The only skilled men 
I want are the bullock -drivers and the engineer. 
Mere manual labour is thought precious little of by 
us, Hatten, old man. We learn in our society that 
the real work is done by brain and skilled science. 
Physical details are completed by steam-power, 
bullocks, horses, and boys in the apprentice stage. 
Stay with us a few weeks, and you will learn how, 
under co-operation, clubbed thought and knowledge 
are the real motive forces. Men who can do nothing 
but work with their hands and use a shovel or a pair 
of shears we don't want. One of our apprentices is 
worth two such ordinary men any day.' 

While Nugent was talking they reached the head- 
quarters, and, after a visit to the bath and bachelors' 
quarters, Hatten was taken up a high stair which 
opened upon a flat roof, whereon were situated the 
President's and committee room and other . offices. 
President Musgrave, a tall, sturdy, somewhat stern- 
looking man of about sixty, received his visitor 
'I know you by name, Mr. Hatten, and I am 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


particularly glad to see you at this time,' said he. 
* There is much that I wish to speak to you about ; 
however, come on to breakfast ; we will have plenty 
of time for a chat afterwards.' 

The party who sat down to breakfast in the lofty, 
skilfully-ventilated dining-hall of Fort Mallarraway 
was a small one. Nearly all the men were down at 
the Fortification Bee, where all meals were provided 
for them, while most of the ladies had already break- 
fasted, and were now either teaching the children or 
engaged in the multifarious duties of the immense 

Mrs. Musgrave, a delightful old lady, who combined 
the progressive spirit of the present with the gentle 
courtliness of a past decade, presided over the tea 
arrangements, while her two daughters waited on 
their guests. 

' I can't allow this,' protested Cameron ; * it is our 
duty to serve.' 

'If you were one of us, Cameron,' laughed Mus- 
grave, * you would understand that we all serve each 

'I suppose your servants have struck, Mr. Mus- 
grave,' said Hatten, who had but a confused idea of 
their internal arrangements. ' I hear the same story 
wherever I go. Do allow me to be Ganymede.' 

' No, no, Mr. Hatten ! it is the girls' allotted work, 
I can assure you. We have had no servants such as 
you speak of for years. Apart from the difficulty of 
keeping them, our women realized that paid servants 
could hardly be expected to take much pride in ^ork 
in which they held no real interest. So now we do it 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


all ourselves, and feel healthier and better for it. 
Don't you see, we now have an important mission 
to fill, for if the men provide the raw material, our 
skill turns it into wholesome food for them/ 

After breakfast, while the ladies all took a share in 
straightening up, Musgrave and the three men re- 
turned to the roof of the club-house. 

' Light your pipes,' said the President, as they sat 
down under an awning. ' I mean to take a holiday 
in honour of your visit.' 

Before them stretched a magnificent and far- 
reaching view of undulating downs, broken here and 
there by deep ravines sunk below the general level of 
the country. 

An occasional bottle-tree with a bole like a water- 
jug, and crowned with a tuft of kurragong-like leaves, 
and here and there clumps of gorgeous corals, relieved 
the flatness of the landscape, while belts of coolibahs 
marked the winding course of every creek. Between 
the club-house and the western outworks stretched a 
deep ravine, heavily grassed, and watered by a natural 

' What the deuce are you up to ?' asked Cameron, 
pointing with his pipe in the direction of the works. 
' Is it for protection against the shearers' union, or do 
you mean to revive the old border days ?' 

'I know you think I'm mad, Cameron,' replied 
Musgrave quietly; 'most people, unfortunately for 
themselves, share your opinion.' 

' I for one do not, sir,' interrupted Hatten. 

'No; Dick is with you heart and soul,' laughed 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


' I am glad of it !' exclaimed the President, looking 
keenly at Hatten. He knew well by hearsay of Dick's 
universal popularity with all the younger bushmen, 
and, judging from appearance, he saw in him the 
beau-ideal of a guerilla leader. 

During the talk that followed, both Cameron and 
Johnson began to realize that perhaps they had been 

Musgrave held proofs of which they could hardly 
doubt the authenticity, and which, placed side by side 
with some of Zenski's late actions, gave a most 
unpleasant colour of suspicion to the whole business. 

' Have you communicated with McLoskie about this 
matter ?' asked Cameron. 

* Eepeatedly ; but as you know he and I don't row 
in the same boat, and as the men I doubt are all 
friends of his, he has either ignored or pooh-poohed 
my warnings. The best I have been able to do was 
to get a supply of small arms and rifles and four light 
guns a few months back, on the plea that the unions 
meant to burn us out.' 

' Poor devils ! cheap labour has cooked their goose 
up here,' remarked Cameron. 

' Practically, yes. Still, there are enough of them 
left to make the excuse hold water. These arms I 
still have, and above the ammunition supplied, we 
are laying in a good stock on our own account.' 

' Have you any idea of when we may expect these 
infernal Eussians?' asked Johnson, now quite won 
over to Musgrave's view. 

* No ; but they may come at any moment. Eussia, 
as you know, has occupied Herat, and though no 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


formal declaration of war has been made, it can only 
be a question of weeks, perhaps days.' 

* I doubt if Eussia will be polite enough to observe 
the rules of the ring if she can gain a first advantage 
by breaking them,' muttered Hatten. 

* You are right ; therefore we may expect trouble 
at any moment. Could you collect a body of ir- 
regular horse if required ?' 

' I fancy so,' replied Hatten. ' There are still a lot 
of fellows about Hughenden and scattered through 
the district who can both ride and fight, but how 
about arms ?' 

' I will do all I can in that way,' said Musgrave. 
* If you can guarantee a couple of hundred good men, 
we will see that they have something to handle. If 
the Government won't help us, we must help our- 
selves, eh, Cameron ?' 

' I am with you,' replied the squatter. ' It may 
mean nothing — God send it does — but on the off 
chance be prepared, and I will stand in with you in 
the cost.' 

6 Spoken like a man. Now suppose we go down 
and have a look at the work,' said Musgrave heartily, 
rising and leading the way to the staircase. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

[ 200 ] 



Eecognising the hopeless deterioration of Australian 
horse-breeding, the owners of Afton Downs early 
determined to try and get back to that weight-carry- 
ing, stout-hearted strain which had of late become 
replaced by the weedy, slab-sided flyer. In most 
parts of the colonies the old stock-horse, unequalled 
for both intelligence and endurance, was rapidly 
growing extinct. Wholesale racing, with its attendant 
evils of big handicaps and light-weights, had brought 
into existence a miserable class of weeds, admirable as 
a medium for betting, but ruinous as regards the 
future of the breed. With direct communication 
opened up to the East, the demand for horses suitable 
for remounts became intensified ; the only trouble was 
where to find them. Determined to make capital out 
of the insane folly which permitted brutes only fit 
for pigs' food to be used as stud-horses after their 
miserable legs had broken down under burdens of six 
stone, Musgrave had collected after infinite trouble 
a select band of mares, and as mates for these a 
couple of Arab stallions were imported. This nucleus 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


of a stud was turned out on a part of the run joining 
Isis Downs. 

As the paddock in which they ran contained over 
twenty thousand acres, they were practically as free as 
the early squatters' herds. Still, the ring-fence formed 
a more satisfactory boundary than the blazed tree-line 
or dividing-range of past days, and offered less induce- 
ments to neighbouring stockmen to brand a few clean - 
skins who had wandered in among their * bosses' ' 
mobs. At the present time there were a promising 
lot of about two hundred four-year-olds fit for the 
market, and Musgrave had decided to have them 
handled, not, however, so much with the object of 
selling, as to provide remounts for his own men should 
the occasion arise. On the morning after Cameron's 
arrival the muster took place. 

It was a poor affair compared with the grand old 
musters of the past, for most of the stations round 
were now worked solely by Kalmucks and other aliens, 
and Musgrave for many reasons decided not to ask for 
their help. 

But apart from this, the muster really died with 
the introduction of fenced runs. In the days when 
only an imaginary line divided stations, stock naturally 
got more or less mixed. When branding-time arrived, 
each man came for his own, and sometimes for as 
many of his neighbours' foals as he or his men could 
manage to secure by superior finesse or more unblush- 
ing prevarication. Starting at one station, and taking 
each of the adjoining runs in turn, the muster was an 
affair of weeks. To it all sent a contingent, and at it 
the best and bravest of the country side outvied with 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


each other in deeds of daring horsemanship and feats 
with rope and brand. What men they were, these old 
stockmen ! — lean-flanked and bearded, with eyes like 
hawks, and hearts as hard as their sun-tanned, sinewy 
hands. Men ready, if required, to rope a young one 
over night and ride him at daybreak ; not one of the 
half-starved poddies one sees rough-riders winning 
reputations on to-day, but a colt fit to buck through 
his tackling, and then go out and carry the man till 
dark who was able to sit on him. What horses they 
were ! — stout-barrelled, iron-legged ' tasters,' as short 
behind the wither as they were long in front of it ; 
horses who worked day after day on no better feed 
than grass, and raced up beside the swiftest outlaw 
when the whips were cracking. To see the old stock- 
horse jogging along behind the 'tatters/ scarcely 
noticing the spur, one who didn't know points might 
easily have been pardoned for calling him a moke. 
But once let a mob get going, and it took a good man 
to hold most, and a better to sit on many when their 
noses were on a bullock's rump, and he turned in his 
own length. 

' Cutting-out ' horses used to be led out to a cattle- 
camp so broken down and ' crutchy ' that they could 
hardly walk without stumbling; but once at work, 
what wonders they were ! — quick as lighting, sure as 
death, and game to the last. The bullock they were 
once * laid on to ' never got back into the mob if once 
he left it. 

Now, in most parts of Australia the muster was in 
reality a thing of the past, and the stock-horses and 
their riders lived only in story. The bushman of the 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


day rode round boundary-fences on a hybrid creature, 
having as much in common with the gelding of the 
past as the wooden structure on which clothes are 
dried. After all, it was as well; the mount was 
worthy of its rider, for men who called innocent 
gambolling bucking, and whose reins were either 
dangling about their horses' chests or held on a level 
with their own mouths, were better fitted to jog at the 
trail of a flock of old ewes than to ride on the wing of 
a mob of wild horses. ' Out back ' Australian horse- 
manship still lived, but in the country, where sheep 
and farming had driven out cattle and horses, the 
bush -rider was a shameless fraud, who traded on 
the memories of the past. Doubtless the average 
Australian still rode better than the average English- 
man, simply because the latter seldom got the chance 
to ride at all. Still, this is certain : under changed 
conditions the wonderful horsemen of Australia were 
growing fewer and fewer, and were now, with certain 
brilliant exceptions, oialy to be found where surround- 
ings still remained in which to create them. 

Taking out enough quiet horses to act as ' tailors,' 
a dozen men from the Fort, accompanied by Dick, 
Ted, and their stockmen, rode out early in the morn- 
ing to where the horses 'ran.' Bounding up the 
' tailers ' in the bottom of one of the ravines across 
which the mobs were accustomed to 'make,' the 
party, leaving half a dozen men in charge, rode off in 

' You ought to drop on some the other side of that 
bald hill,' said Jackson, one of the Mallarraway men, 
pointing to a flat-topped rise about five miles away. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


'Eight you are,' said Johnson, as he, Dick, and 
Billy rode off. ' Now, mind you " tailers " don't go to 

' Did you ever know the beggars do anything else ?' 
laughed Dick. 

Making a big sweep, the three came in well at the 
back of the hill. 

'They're sure to be down on the flat,' said Ted, 
who knew the country. 

Eiding on to the crown of a rocky ridge, they came 
on a mob of about thirty resting under some corals. 
Silently as they had approached the wild horses heard 
them, and now as they, topped the rise ran neighing 
round a white, bloodlike-looking stallion. Giving a 
trumpet-tongued snort, he tossed his long tangled 
mane and raced off like the wind, followed by his 

' I'll take the lower side,' shouted Johnson. ' Don't 
let 'em break back, Billy !' 

'No blooming fear!' grunted Billy, as Ted shot 
past him, while Dick, who did not know the lie of 
the country, ran up on the other wing. 

Galloping straight from point to point, Johnson 
met and turned them whenever they tried to break 
through, while the crack of Billy's stock-whip rang 
out above the clang of the horses' hoofs as he forced 
the mares and foals up into the mob. Afraid to lie 
off too far, Hatten raced well up on the other wing. 

Down a rock-bound ravine they dashed, the stallion 
still in front, but met on either side, and pressed too 
close to double, they galloped up its broken face, and 
on over the open downs straight for the square-topped 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


hill. The foam flying from their leaders' manes fell 
like snow on the sweat-stained coats of the weary 
mares as they neared its base. Breasting it gallantly, 
the mob, tossing back dust and stones from their 
flying hoofs, reached the crown. Then for a moment 
they wavered, but Billy's whip rang out, and tossing 
their manes they charged down the farther side. 
Eacing round either shoulder, Ted and Dick, sitting 
well back with feet rammed 'home' and hands held 
low, shot up on both flanks, as Billy, giving the 
' Barcoo back cut,' drove his horse down the face of 
the hill. Bunning wide, then closing up, the three, 
with practised generalship, steered the wild horses 
straight for the ravine in which the 'tatters' were 
placed. As they neared it, all their stock-whips rang 
out in warning, and closing on the chase, they drove 
them over its edge. Down into the gully the horses 
plunged as a chorus of yells and stock-whip cracks 
rose above the thunder of hoofs and neighing of the 

*D n them, they're asleep!' shouted Ted, as 

they saw in a flash the mob burst through the 
* tailers,' carrying most of them away with them up 
the other side. 

Cursing the men, just mounted, and now vainly 
attempting to block the rush, Ted and Dick drove 
spurs into their blown horses, and, nursing them up 
the rise, gave chase. Luckily the country was good, 
and gaining half a mile by one of Johnson's short- 
cuts, they again met the mob, and turning them with 
their whips, drove them back into the * tailers,' now 
rounded up and well backed by Billy' and the men. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


i What the devil were you up to ?' demanded Dick 
savagely, as he loosed the girths on his reeking horse. 

'Oh, shut up!' growled one of the delinquents; 
' the fellow you left behind has just given us about as 
much as we can stand already.' 

' Been reading out their characters — eh, Billy ?' 
laughed Ted. 

' My oath !' drawled the trainer. 

About four in the afternoon the musterers started 
for home. Steadying the mob on a bit of good 
country, Dick, Ted, and Jackson moved on ahead, 
followed by the horses, while the rest of the men 
jogged on the wings and kept up the stragglers. 
Sitting loosely in their saddles, the stockmen dis- 
cussed the chances of the day to a running accompani- 
ment of hoof-beats and the whinnying of foals and 
neighing of the stallions. 

Tired limbs could now be stretched at leisure, and 
reins still damp with sweat let hang on drooping 
necks, for the smoke-rings which coiled lazily above 
each pipe told that the work of the day was done. 
As they guided the horses between the wings of the 
stockyard, which stood at the head of the valley 
commanded by the entrenchments, Cameron and 
Musgrave, accompanied by Zenski, drove up. 

After a look from the top of the fence, the Eussian 
remarked carelessly : 

* You have a few fair remounts among your horses, 
mon ami ; they are for India ?' 

'I'm not sure,' replied Musgrave curtly. 
' If it will save you any trouble, possibly I may be 
able to find a buyer for a few of them.' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


' You are very obliging, Count/ remarked Musgrave 

' Not at all/ laughed Zenski ; ' self-interest, I can 
assure you; ma foil I am but what you would call 
touting for business.' 

Hearing in Hughenden various reports as to the 
work going on at Fort Mullarraway, Count Zenski 
determined to judge for himself. Everyone voted the 
Afton Downs people a crowd of lunatics, and with 
this opinion Zenski cordially fell in — in public. 
Privately, he considered that there was enough of 
method in their madness to warrant a personal 

Much as Musgrave detested the Eussian, he yet 
felt that to show his dislike would be both useless 
and unwise, so on his arrival he was received, if not 
with cordiality, still with all due politeness. That he 
was not wanted struck Zenski at once, but this 
troubled him little ; he had come for a purpose, and 
so long as that was gained the feelings of his hosts 
towards himself were matters of perfect indifference. 
The fact that even Heather met him with a certain 
restraint roused the Count's curiosity, and induced 
him to cultivate Mrs. Enson with even more empresse- 
ment than usual. From that lady he soon learned 
all he wanted to know, and considerably more than 
was likely to prove advantageous to Hatten should 
Dick ever fall into his hands. During the afternoon 
the Eussian made it his business to inspect as much 
of the scheme of defence as could be viewed from the 
roof of the club-house. 
Musgrave's politeness utterly refused to allow of 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


his guest's nearer approach, on the plea of the intense 
heat; and as Zenski had no wish to appear suspi- 
ciously interested, he had perforce to be contented 
with this somewhat distant view. 

While professing indifference as to the colts, Zenski 
had determined to buy up all the four-year-olds if 
he could manage it. He was moved to this determina- 
tion by the double motive of wanting good mounts 
for the invading cavalry, and desiring to keep them 
out of the hands of the defending force. 

That night, after considerable finessing, Zenski 
made an offer for the whole draft. As he put it, 
their trainage to Point Parker would cost his firm 
nothing, so he could afford to be liberal. This 
liberality first took the shape of an offer of £10 
apiece, but at last, as Musgrave remained firm, 
Zenski made a final bid of £20 a head on a three- 
months bill. Under ordinary conditions this was 
handsome enough, but to Musgrave and Hatten the 
conditions sounded both ominous and ludicrous. If 
they were right in their supposition, both felt it would 
be a hard bit of paper to collect. 

' I admit the offer's not a bad one, Count,' said 
the President after a little thought ; ' but I regret to 
say I must ask you to let it stand over until after our 
annual meeting, three months ahead.' 

' Pardieu, that is not business !' muttered Zenski. 
' In three months I may not want your horses, mon 
ami ; what then ?' 

' I doubt if you will, Zenski,' replied Musgrave, so 
significantly that the Eussian dropped the subject. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

[ 2og ] 





Leaving the brilliantly-lighted piazza of the Mitylene 
Palace, two men walked slowly down to the pier that 
stretched out into the dark waters of the Gulf. On 
either side of the broad rail-shod causeway electric 
lamps shone like giant fireflies, throwing their pris- 
matic rays far out into the gloom and cresting the 
lazy ripples with coronets of silver. 

Here and there groups of townsmen lounged or sat 
on the pier, either idly smoking or discussing local 
scandal and the latest cablegrams with that hopeless 
lassitude and utter ennui common to European- 
Asiatic life. Moving among them, Afghan hawkers 
and Chinese fruit and cigarette sellers supplied the 
local colour of an Eastern picture. 

Standing on the approach, the two men looked out 
along the pier. Turning and waving his hand towards 
the wretched hovels that clustered round the ware- 
houses, Zenski said in French : 


Digitized by VjOOQIC 


' The foreground is already of the East.' 

* So is the middle distance,' replied Spero, as they 
walked past a mob of scarlet-turbaned hawkers. 

' With luck Leroy should be able to provide an ad- 
mirable background before morning,' sneered Zenski. 

'Yes, this is the twenty-fifth of September; if 
Jansen has made no mistake, the flotilla is due,' said 
Spero in a low, anxious tone. 

* Peste, how could he mistake ? — his message reads 
distinctly: " Both flotillas past all danger ; should form 
junction at latitude 12°, longitude 140° ; look out for 
me to-morrow night." ' 

While they were speaking they neared the end of 
the pier, and, standing against the railing, looked 
silently out into the dark, moonless night. As they 
watched a light rose faintly out of the gloom. 

1 Some fishermen,' muttered Spero. 

'Not so, mon ami, 9 returned Zenski, as the light 
grew rapidly brighter. 

Then, as they waited, their eyes caught a phospho- 
rescent gleam on either side of the advancing beacon. 

'It is Jansen,' whispered Spero; and as he spoke 
the Professor's yacht ran up beside the pier, and the 
man of science climbed up the steps and stood peering 
into their faces from behind his glasses. 

Galvanized into some amount of interest by the 
arrival of a strange boat, the people on the pier began 
to crowd round the three men ; but recognising that 
further pretence was useless, Zenski and Spero 
followed Jansen back into his cabin. 

* Well V exclaimed the Count, as they entered. 

' I have come direct from Leroy,' replied Jansen ; 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


•* the wing which came round the north of New Guinea 
ran through Torres Strait safely, and I believe unseen.' 

' Thanks to electricity and slate-coloured paint/ 
grinned Zenski. 

'At the point agreed on the two flotillas joined. 
Making allowance for the extra spee* of my yacht, 
Leroy should be off Point Parker before daylight.' 

* Had they any trouble getting through ?' asked 

' None. As you know, Leroy had concentrated twenty 
thousand men at Port Arthur, with which, in conjunc- 
tion with a powerful fleet, he was supposed to be 
about to operate against the Russian forces in mari- 
time Manchuria, while Ching Tu was massing a 
formidable army to defend the Southern ports. A 
week before war was officially declared, the Eussd- 
French fleets made a demonstration before Hong 
Kong, which practically drew off the British squadron, 
As soon as the coast was clear, the Chinese fleet 
shipped Leroy's column and ran out to sea. A day 
or so later, the allied fleets having drawn the English 
squadron into the Gulf of Siam, Dromeroff, with ten 
thousand of Ching Tu's picked Kalmuck cavalry, 
slipped out of the Southern ports. The massacre of 
the English and attack by Ching Tu on Hong Kong 
were to follow, but of these Leroy has no information.' 

' Then neither of the fleets met any opposition 7 

' None worth the name.' 

4 The English squadron must have had its hands 
full,' muttered Zenski. 

* Doubtless,' retorted Jansen. ' Still, you must not 
forget that our transports are built for speed ; under 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


equal conditions they can outpace the unwieldy 
English ironclads. In this case they have had a 
long start as well.' 

' Pardieu! the fates fight for us/ laughed the Count. 
1 Now, even if they do come, we can give them a warm 
reception from* the batteries I am building for my good 
friend Sir Peter.' 

' Are they nearly completed ?' 

' Yes ; the guns are here ready for mounting, and 
our merchant prince is even now entertaining the dis- 
tinguished engineer who is about to take over the work.' 

' Leroy should indeed be obliged,' sneered Jansen ; 
' not only do you build him batteries, but you provide 
him with a skilled officer to pass them.' 

' Ma foi ! had we not better return ?' said Zenski. 
' Bourouskie may get drunk himself in trying to bring 
our gallant Colonel to a similar condition.' 

'He dare not,' muttered Spero. 'Still, we have 
much to do between now and daybreak. Do you come 
with us, Jansen ?' 

' No, I have other work to do.' 

' Doubtless the cables are seen to ?' said Zenski. 

' All are cut except that from Noumea,' replied the 
Professor. * I myself sent the last message from Port 

' What was its import, mon brave V 

' War declared ; be prepared for Eussian or French 
attack on capitals.' 

'What chivalry!' laughed Zenski. 'You deserve 
hanging for your devotion to Sir Peter, Professor. 
Adieu; we will be ready to welcome Monsiew le 
Giniral and his Mongols.' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

[ 213 ] 



The sea-birds sleeping on the dreary surface of the 
Gulf rose screeching from their wave-rocked slumber, 
for fiery-eyed monsters, swift and silent, were moving 
relentlessly over the waste of water. 

At intervals a sharp word of command rang out, 
spoken in a tongue that was old before the Western 
world rose out of chaos, and in respose men with 
the broad yellow faces and coarse black hair of those 
fierce nomads who followed Genghis Khan sprang to 
obey. The lights, falling on them as they worked, 
lit up their features with ghastly distinctness. From 
their cruel lips flowed a song, discordant, fear-com- 
pelling, which, as it floated out over the sea, filled 
all the air with its awful cadences. 

For a space the half- wakened birds hung motion- 
less, caught in the thrall of the demon chorus, then, 
uttering startled cries, fled into the night. 

To Jansen, going to meet them in his yacht, a 
vision of the old blood-limned days arose. From 
such beings and in some such guise must have rung 
out the dread Kaven's song. Then, when he remem- 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


bered who and what they were, he realized that 
silken-sailed galleys, with glittering shields and triple 
banks of oars, were not for demons such as these. 
Such a song should only come from betwixt the folds of 
bat-like sails, and up out of the bowels of dragon-prowed 
junks. To-night it rose above the decks of swift, 
low-lying, smokeless cruisers, armed with the latest 
weapons of the Western world. It was the battle-cry 
of Tamerlane shouted by warriors such as his ; but, in 
place of the bow and spear, they held in their relent- 
less, clawlike hands the weapons of a civilization 
which had risen and marched on while his race stood 
still. The Mongols, after a sleep of centuries, had 
awoke at last. Still brave as lions, enduring as dogs, 
and rapacious as wolves, they had shaken off their 
death-like stupor and again taken up the glorious 
traditions of the past. Cunning as foxes and far- 
sighted as ravens, they had learned by defeat, and 
now, following out their policy of making use of their 
enemies, were led by a renegade, who could be 
destroyed when he had fulfilled their purpose. Strong 
as ever in their belief in their absolute superiority to 
all mankind, and armed with the very weapons which 
in the past had brought about their humiliations, 
they were coming under the old banners of blood 
and fire to avenge past insults and win new posses- 

In answer to Jansen's signal, the leading vessel 
slowed down. Eunning alongside, the Finlander 
spoke for a few minutes in Eussian to an officer who 
had come to one of the ports, then sheered off and 
disappeared. Walking down into the gun-room, the 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


officer knocked. Absorbed in thoughts that, from his 
knitted brow, were at best full of anxiety, the only 
occupant took no notice of the summons. On the 
table before him lay a map on which he had been 
marking different routes with a pencil which still lay 
between his fingers. 

The cavalry sabre lying on a chair, and his striking 
half-Eussian, half-Eastern uniform, told that he was a 
soldier still. Apart from these signs, General Leroy 
could hardly have been mistaken for a civilian. 

Broad-shouldered and deep-chested, with dark eyes 
that never flinched, either at the ping of bullets or 
the frown of another, with lips devoid of sensuality, 
but almost cruel in their firm, close lines, and with a 
large though delicately-cut nose, he looked essentially 
a leader of warlike men. His age was always a sub- 
ject of dispute among his comrades. For while his 
close-cropped hair was white, his heavy moustache 
and strongly-marked brows remained black. The 
lines about his mouth and under his eyes were those 
of a man who had either lived hard for years or 
else long in a short space of time ; but in all matters 
of endurance he was still in his prime. 

Eoused by a second knock, the General called out in 
the full, strong voice of one accustomed to utter words 
of command : 

' Enter!' 

Obeying, the officer saluted. 

As he did so, Leroy rose, and then his great height 
became apparent. As a comrade had said to him, 
'He was not only born to command men, but 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


1 Well, Bedski, what is it ?' he asked. 

' Jansen has returned, General ; he wishes me to 
convey to you that all is ready both at Point Parker 
and Normanton.' 

' I expected as much ; Zenski never fails in 

' Jansen also instructed me to announce, General, 
that the division for Normanton must leave us in an 

' Inform the Admiral, and signal Colonel Dromeroff 
to come on board when the squadron lies to,' said 
Leroy, dropping again into his chair, and pulling the 
map towards him. 

Swiftly the slate-coloured monsters glided past 
Cape Van Diemen, then a signal-light ran up the 
solitary mast of the Admiral's ship, and the fleet lay 
to. Picking up Dromeroff, Leroy's second in com- 
mand, Jansen again ran alongside. This time, how- 
ever, he came on board, and, walking up on the bridge, 
began to explain certain matters connected with the 
tides, while Dromeroff hurried down into the General's 

Dressed in uniform, and now wearing a moustache, 
the Colonel had thrown aside all semblance of the 
persecuted civilian who had given the members of the 
Midas so frank an opinion on the war scare. 

' The time has come for us to part company,' said 
Leroy. * Is there anything upon which you are not 

' Nothing, General ; everything is prepared for 
landing the moment our ships drop anchor; and 
piloted by Jansen, a hitch seems impossible.' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


4 See that it is impossible/ retorted Leroy. * I look 
to you in this matter, Dromeroff.' 
' I accept the responsibility/ 

'And will share the glory of success, my comrade !' 
exclaimed the General. ' I leave all in your hands ; 
only, remember > it is not a question of we may win — we 
must win, Dromeroff.' 

' I know it. From the enemy we can expect no 
quarter, and these devils of ours would turn on us like 
wolves in the hour of defeat.' 

'Possibly!' muttered Leroy. 'Still, I doubt it; 
nevertheless, let us not give them the chance,' said 
the General. 'Are your rafts and landing bridges 

' They are now putting them together.' 
' Dromeroff, I know these men,' said Leroy. ' How 
cruel and brutish they are when the lust of blood is 
on them !' 
' Are not all men alike ?' sneered the Colonel. 
Disregarding the question, Leroy continued: 
' About the men it would be folly to trouble. They 
will give no quarter, so they can expect none ; but I 
command you— and remember I will be obeyed — save 
the women and children.' 

'I can but do my best,' growled Dromeroff. 'But 
how can I be everywhere Y 

Recognising the truth of his officer's remark, Leroy 
replied : 

' I leave our honour in your keeping, my comrade ; 
and now, bon voyage. 9 

Clasping each other's hands, the two men stood 
looking into each other's eyes. Both felt they were 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


standing on the edge of an unknown abyss, in whose 
depths lay hidden the elements of disgrace and fame. 
Both were soldiers of fortune, men reckless of most 
things, and yet, as the Mongols' devilish chorus floated 
down from above, a sense of the awful scourge they 
were about to let loose fell upon them. 

Then, realizing the madness of such thoughts at 
this eleventh hour, Leroy caught up his sword, and, 
striding to the door, exclaimed : 

' To your ship, Colonel ; are we not the servants of 
the Czar ?' 

Standing on the bridge beside Admiral Frampton, a 
thick-set American, who had originally been a mid- 
shipman in the United States navy, Leroy watched 
the Normanton flotilla, led by Jansen, disappear. As 
the last light merged into the darkness, he turned to 
the pilot who stood beside him : 

' When should we be off Point Parker ?' 

* In a couple of hours, General,' the man replied. 

* Won't you have to slacken down when we get on 
the coast ?' asked Frampton anxiously. 

1 1 have reckoned on that,' said the pilot ; ' but we 
can run up to twenty till we are off the harbour.' 

On board each transport the work of preparation 
went on. Directed by officers claiming every nation- 
ality, but among whom Eussians predominated, the 
Celestial warriors toiled with that dogged endurance 
which has made their race hated, and was yet to make 
it feared. 

Eafts which, when loaded with infantry, could be 
towed ashore by steam-launches, and floating-bridges 
on which to land artillery and the staff-horses, were 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


being transferred from the holds and laid in sections 
on the decks with a mathematical exactness which 
told of perfect preparation. 

Forward the different detachments were forming for 
a final inspection. Armed With the latest types of 
rifle, some of them capable of discharging a hundred 
rounds per minute, and provided with light, bullet- 
proof uniforms, a dress long known to the Chinese, 
but now brought to a high state of perfection by 
Western skill in Eastern pay, the men, both in 
physique and discipline, utterly belied the popular 
idea of Chinese soldiery. With the miserable market- 
gardener and the fossiker known to Australia these 
warriors had little in common. They were Mongols, 
possessing the same physical strength and capacity 
for endurance that made their ancestors the most 
formidable soldiery in the world, and Kalmucks, who 
had revived the old Manchu saying that 'A man's 
sole duty is to ride a horse and to bend a bow.' 

Eealizing that the institution of trade relations with 
their neighbours must mean in one form or another 
the loss of those territories which at present admitted 
the sway of the Bogdo Khan up to the Pamir and the 
Karakoram, the Conservative party at Pekin had at 
last decided that the only chance of retaining them 
lay in taking one side or the other in the coming 
struggle between Eussia and England. Led by Ching 
Tu, and saturated by that potent Eussianizing process 
with which the Muscovite seems able to influence 
even the most hostile of Asiatic peoples, the younger 
Chinese party threw all their weight on the side of 
Eussia. Fanned by Leroy and other secret agents, 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


hostility to England grew more intense, while the 
accounts of Australia brought back by the Chinese 
themselves not only filled their countrymen with a 
feeling of revenge, but also with the more potent 
desire for conquest. Still, as befitted the most subtle 
diplomatists of Asia, even when a Russian policy was 
agreed upon, its ends were jealously hidden from the 
world. Until the day the flotilla sailed, Russia and 
China professed to be preparing to spring at each 
other's throats, and, with consummate trickery, Leroy 
was placed under arrest on the ground that, although 
an American soldier of fortune and instructor to the 
Chinese forces, he had once served in the Russian 

Standing on the bridge, General Leroy looked down 
on the men he was about to hurl on a continent upon 
whose vast expanse they would be but a speck. Still, 
this troubled him little ; he well knew that in its 
colossal limits lay its impotency, and that once the 
barriers were forced, numberless thousands were ready 
to rush in through the opened breach. That many 
of these would never see the promised land he well 
knew ; but even if a few thousands left their bones to 
pave the narrow waterway, there were plenty to take 
their places. Then the thought arose, But what if 
England cuts off all further reinforcements ? Casting 
it aside as unlikely, at any rate, for the present, 
Leroy conjured up another picture. Ambition was 
his god, and now it seemed to him that this deity held 
out a prize worthy for a soldier to grasp at, even if 
Death sat in the other scale. 

Ching Tu, he well knew, aimed at becoming vice- 

Digitized by VjOOQlC 


roy of this new world, did victory crown his arms ; but 
now that no fealty to Eussia stood in his way, Leroy, 
backed by the brain-power without which this huge 
engine of destruction must go to pieces, felt that in 
his hands Australia's destinies lay. Other chiefs of 
the Mongols had become kings of the lands their 
swords had won ; why not he ? .Absorbed in his dream, 
the wild, barbaric chant of the workers below fell all 
unheeded, when suddenly a cry rang out, which as it 
rose swelled into a roar, wolf-like in its fierce desire. 
Starting, he looked ahead, and there, shining through 
the darkness, gleamed the lights of Point Parker. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

[ 222 ] 



Some revellers staggering through the deserted streets 
caught gleams of fire moving over the surface of the 
sea. In the dull, gray light it seemed to their un- 
certain eyes that constellations of suns were rising out 
of the depths, but the watchers on the roof of the 
Mitylene Palace saw in the advancing flashes the 
lightning that presages storm and death. 

Tossing his cigar over the parapet, Zenski rose. 

' Come, mes amis,' said he gaily, * our distinguished 
visitors are here ; let us live up to Australian tradition, 
and give them welcome.' 

As he spoke, his two companions walked to his 
side, Spero calm and anxious, Bourouskie trembling 
with a half-fearful unrest. 

' God help us if these savages get out of hand !' 
the latter muttered. 

' PardieuJ' sneered Zenski, 'we are between the 
devil and the deep sea if they do ; but fear not, Leroy 
is an admirable wild-beast tamer.' 

Just then a stream of fire rushed through the 
gloom, followed by the dull boom of a cannon. Re- 

Digitized by VjOOQlC 


verberating over the water, it woke the echoes with its 
dull thunder. 

'Leroy's signal!' exclaimed the Count. 'Come, 
the landing has begun.' 

As the three men hurried towards the pier, a 
motley and excited mass began to fill the streets and 
pour down towards the water. Here and there a 
white, scared face stood out for a moment among the 
dusky, gesticulating crowd, then disappeared for ever. 

Surrounded by a bodyguard, the Eussians at last 
reached the pier. As they did so, the sun, rising above 
the horizon, shot flaming rays skyward and seaward, 
and there, standing out against the blazing back- 
ground, floated the Chinese fleet, the Dragon standard 
waving from each peak. Already rafts packed with 
men began to move shoreward, and in answer to the 
Mongols, the crowds who lined the bay sent up a dread, 
inhuman yell. 

Staggering through the press, a half-drunken 
planter pushed aside a powerful coolie with an im- 
patient curse. Suddenly drawing his knife, the 
Chinaman drove it into his assailant's chest. As the 
man fell back, a stream of blood spurted out of the 
wound into the face of his murderer, and, moved by 
one common impulse of slaughter, the hybrid, down- 
trodden slaves became brutal avengers. 

Bushing back into the streets, they began to kill 
with the indiscriminate hate of wild beasts, and, 
drunk with slaughter, dared to stain with their bloody 
feet the piazza of the Mitylene Palace. On its marble 
pavement stood three machine guns, trained to sweep 
the approaches, backed up by a detachment of heavily-, 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


armed Kalmucks. Zenski knew his men, and had 
instructed Spero to collect all the townsfolk worth 
saving over-night, and also to get up the guns, and 
provide a sufficient force to hold the palace against 
possible assault. Awed by the armed force, the mob 
hesitated for a moment, then, impelled by the demon 
of greed, rushed on. Waiting until the compact 
mass was within fifteen paces of the muzzles, the 
officer gave the word. No sound drowned the coolies' 
wild yells, no smoke hid their outstretched bloody 
knives; but when the watchers on the roof again 
turned their fearful eyes down on the square, it was 
littered with the dead and dying. 

Terrified by the voiceless reaper, the mob rolled 
back into the narrow streets, uttering fierce cries of 
rage, while the Kalmucks, rushing from behind the 
guns, bayoneted with wanton devilry the wounded 
wretches writhing on the slippery pavement. 

Eecognising that defence was impossible, many of 
the inhabitants had fled at the first alarm ; but so 
sudden was it all, that the majority opened their eyes 
only to gaze into the faces of devils mad with lust 
and carnage, and sworn to offer up womanly purity, 
prattling babyhood and helpless age on the altar of 
a blind, unreasoning revenge. 

While these scenes were being enacted in the 
streets and houses of Point Parker, a launch left the 
side of the Admiral's ship, and, steaming rapidly 
through the heavily-laden rafts, approached the pier. 
Sheltered by a silken canopy sat Leroy, dressed in 
the magnificent costume of a military mandarin of 
the highest class. Bound him stood his staff, all* 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


like himself, soldiers of fortune ready to stake their 
lives against the prizes of the game of war. On the 
right of the General sat Commissioner Wang, a man- 
darin of the first grade, and one deep in the con- 
fidence of the Marquis Ching Tu. Dressed in a 
yellow silk coat heavily bordered with fur, and with a 
chain of priceless pearls hanging over his breast, the 
Commissioner rivalled Leroy in the splendour of his 
costume. From under his red-buttoned hat looked a 
face stolid as that of a sphinx, save for the scarce 
veiled cunning that lurked in his oblique, half-closed 

Ostensibly Leroy's civil colleague, Wang was in 
reality a spy sent to watch over Ching Tu's interest. 
From the first the General had fathomed his mission, 
but, while fully meaning to blow his brains out the 
first time he dared to interfere with his plans, he had 
decided to pay all due respect to Wang while he 
remained passive. 

The infantry, forming with machine-like precision 
as they landed, now stood drawn up under their 
different standards ready to salute the commander-in- 

As Leroy's barge reached the stairs, the guns on 
the cruisers rang out their dread applause, and the 
warriors on the rafts and transports took up the 
fierce psean. 

Startled by the thunder of the artillery, the coolies 
in the distant streets paused in their work of rapine, 
and the fugitives struggling in the mangrove-swamps 
forced their way with nerveless hands deeper into 
their dark, noisome depths. 


Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Obedient to Bedski's command, the troops already 
formed presented arms, and at a sign from their 
officer the Kalmucks watching from the roof of the 
Mitylene Palace ran up the Dragon standard as, 
followed by his staff, and greeted alike with shouts of 
triumph and shrill cries of despair, General Leroy 
sprang up the steps and stood on the pier. 

Stepping forward, Zenski held out his hand : 

' Welcome, mon Gtn&ral,'' said he gaily, adding, 
too low for those behind to hear : * Welcome home 
once more, Philip.' 

At the words Leroy started, and a dark flush 
tinged his cheek ; but, recovering himself, he grasped 
the Count's outstretched hand heartily. 

' Thanks, Count. Allow me to present you to my 
colleague, his Highness Commissioner Wang.' 

Then, turning to Eedski, his chief of staff, he asked 
if the railway-station, public buildings and batteries 
were occupied. 

'AH has been attended to, General,' replied the 

' Signal the transports with the artillery and staff 
horses to come alongside the pier, and see that the 
artillery and stores lying in the warehouses are trans- 
ported to the railway-station at once. The battalion 
for Charleville must leave within an hour.' 

Saluting, Eedski stepped back. 

'How about the transport trains, Count?' asked 

* Four can be ready at five minutes' notice.' 

'Good! Let platforms mounted with automatic 
guns be attached to the front of each engine.' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


' They are prepared/ interrupted Zenski. 

' How about the horses ?' 

'Five hundred are here for shipment,' grinned the 
Count. 'Doubtless, however, you will take the lot. 
Others are ready along the line.' 

' Let the squadrons who have horses be mounted as 
soon as the chargers are disembarked/ ordered Leroy, 
'and with them round up these coolie dogs I see 
prowling about/ 

'Yes, sire/ replied a squat Kalmuck cavalry 

'Put them to work on the batteries, and shoot 
down any hound you catch with blood on him/ 
exclaimed Leroy sternly. 

' Pardieu! General, you will have no workmen left/ 
sneered Zenski. 

'Ah, I am right/ said Leroy; 'these scoundrels 
have broken loose already.' 

'Peste! what did you expect?' retorted the Count 
with a shrug; 'has Asiatic war so changed since 
Scobeleffs campaign ?' 

'I will have no massacre of women/ replied Leroy, 
' and I will hang any man who either allows or takes 
part in such barbarity. These are my wishes; see 
that they are obeyed.' 

Glancing at his staff so fiercely that the incredulous 
smile faded away on their lips, Leroy turned on his 
heel. 'I will expect your report, Eedski, in two 
hours at the Mitylene Palace/ he said. 'Now, 
Zenski, I am at your service.' 

Stepping into a carriage that was waiting, the party 
drove off. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


i The General has grown tender-hearted suddenly,' 
muttered one officer to another. 

' Bah !' laughed his comrade ; * if he carries out his 
orders he will shoot more of us than the enemy. 
Believe me, he will soon learn neither to hear nor to 
see ; our tigers are tireless killers.' 

' But bad discriminators,' grinned the first speaker. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

[ 229 ] 



Punctual to time, Colonel Eedski rode up to the 
Mitylene Palace. 

In the streets, the shrieks of women and the 
despairing curses of men had given place to the 
measured tramp of feet and the dull rumble of 
wheels. The masters of yesterday were dead, or in 
full flight, and McLoskie's cheap alien labourers were 
now at work on the batteries, or engaged in trans- 
ferring baggage and warlike stores from the wharves 
and warehouses to the Mongol camp. In the yards 
built to receive drafts of remounts prior to shipment 
to the East, the Kalmuck cavalrymen were already 
handling the chargers which were to bear them on 
their march to the South, while the three squadrons 
who had brought their horses were patrolling tjie 
streets and driving cattle into the camp. 

Pulling up among a group of orderlies who were 
holding staff-officers' chargers, Eedski dismounted, 
and, throwing his reins to the Kalmuck who accom- 
panied him, ran up the steps and entered. Pushing 
his way through the crowd who filled the reception- 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


room, Eedski, after a moment's parley with the 
sentry, entered Spero's cabinet. 

At a table covered with papers sat three officers 
writing, while, walking up and down the room, Leroy, 
now dressed in uniform, dictated orders with practical 
speed and conciseness. Looking up as his chief-of- 
staff entered, the General said sharply: 'You are 
punctual, Eedski.' 

* Your orders were that I was to be here within two 
hours, General,' replied the Colonel simply. 

' Good ! And your report ?' 

' Major Hoffman, with a battalion of infantry, two 
machine batteries, and a squadron of dismounted 
cavalry, has started for Charleville. Trains following 
will drop troops of cavalry at all stations where horses 
are collected, and these, with automatic guns mounted 
on trucks and propelled by engines, are instructed to 
hold communication clear between Charleville and 
our base.' 

'The line must be held at all costs,' muttered 
Leroy, glancing at a map. 'Hoffman can't hold 
Charleville long without reinforcements.' 

' Nearly all the workmen are aliens, and they will 
turn on their masters as they did here,' replied 
Eedski confidently. 

1 Admitted ; still, help will come from the direction 
of Brisbane.' 

' If Dromeroff has as little trouble as we have had, 
a part of his force should be able to form a junction 
with us at Cloncurry to-morrow.' 

' True, and from what Zenski says, he can't possibly 
fail. Keep pouring men into Charleville as fast as 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


the train service will allow,' said Leroy. * I will leave 
for Cloncurry to-morrow.' 

Bowing, Colonel Eedski retired as the chief of the 
Commissariat Department entered. 

' Well ?' demanded Leroy. 

* Everything is as Count Zenski promised,' replied 
the officer. * Cattle are plentiful, and I have organized 
an admirable camp service from the coolies and other 

* Are they obedient ?' 

' Most,' grinned the Commissary-General. ' I had 
occasion to shoot a few, and while I regret the waste 
of powder, I have to report that the effect has been 

All day long the work of disembarkation went on, 
and so perfect had been the preparations of Zenski 
and his colleagues, that at nightfall the Mongols were 
encamped beyond the town, ready on the morrow for 
a forward movement. While the streets still echoed 
to the tramp of hostile feet, the dining-hall of the 
Mitylene Palace was filled with guests, but to-night 
Mammon had given place to Mars. The smug and 
peaceful apostles of wealth had gone, and in their 
stead sat the directors of a destructive force soon to 
sweep away for ever their boasted thrift and hoarded 
capital. McLoskie, their great magician, had waved 
his wand, and, in response, land-grant railways and 
dusky slaves had risen to fill his followers' coffers and 
swell their dividends. Heedless of the disappearance 
of their race before the spread of a helot population, 
the votaries of capital seized with insatiable greed acre 
after acre, never reckoning who should defend their 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


heritage did the spoiler come. Blinded with the 
conceit of riches, the plutocracy said in their hearts : 
* Soul, thou hast much corn laid up for many years ; 
eat, drink, and be merry.' But an outraged God 
woke suddenly, and made answer : ' Thou fool ! this 
night thy soul shall be required of thee.' 

The firm of Spero, Aloysius and Co. were banquet- 
ing General Leroy and his colleague, Commissioner 
Wang. In place of the sombre black of commerce, 
glittering uniforms reflected the glow of the lamps, 
and echoes of war filled an atmosphere long saturated 
with the dull jargon of trade. 

When the dinner was over, leaving Spero and his 
partner to escort Wang to his apartments, Leroy and 
Zenski turned into the cabinet where so many schemes 
had been matured. 

' The compact made on board the Genoa has been 
fulfilled at last, Philip/ said the older man, offering 
his case. 

Taking it, Philip Orloff carefully chose a cigar, 
and lit it before he spoke. When he did, there was a 
certain bitter ring in his voice as he replied : 

' 1 never dreamt that it was to be kept under such 

' What matter ? the object is the same.' 

* It is the means I dislike. These men are savages.' 

* Eussian or Mongol, it is all the same, mon ami,' 
retorted Zenski. 'Is it not better to be the com- 
mander of a Chinese army than a brigade-major in a 
Eussian ? If you win, the ball is at your feet ; you 
can be what you make yourself/ 

' You forget that I have a colleague, or, to be frank 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


with you, a spy, in Commissioner Wang; I am to 
take the risk, the Marquis Ching Tu the glory, of this 

'If you are fool enough to allow it, mon brave,' 
laughed Zenski. ' But that I know you are not.' 

* Not if I can prevent it, I admit,' replied Orloff. 

Well knowing that when Zenski smuggled him on 
board a Eussian warship in the harbour of Colombo 
he saved his neck from the hangman, Philip had 
always retained a strong friendship for the old 
diplomatist. The fact that in return for his services 
Zenski had demanded the betrayal of his country had 
long since faded from OrlofFs memory ; for though 
born in Australia, he was in reality a Eussian. 
Thanks to Zenski's influence, he had received nothing 
but kindness from the General into whose service he 
had been admitted after his escape. Fortunately for 
Orloff, his new commander was a man quick to discern 
the stuff of which good leaders are made, and so 
Philip's future had not been marred by want of 
opportunity. Speaking their language, and full of 
the same blood as the men among whom he had 
found a refuge, it would have been strange if Orloff 
had not become one of them. This was what had 
really taken place, and now in all things save place of 
birth Philip Orloff was a subject of the Czar. 

Thanks to the outbreak of hostilities between 
China and Japan over the Corean difficulty, Orloff 
had an opportunity for seeing active service within 
a few months of his escape from the Genoa. For 
when in their extremity the Chinese authorities were 
forced to call in the aid of European soldiers of fortune 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


to reorganize their military system, the Russian 
General under whose command Orloff found himself 
promptly picked out the young Australian as the man 
for the hour. 

So it happened that Philip offered his services to 
the Mongol Emperor, ostensibly as an American free- 
lance, but in reality as a servant of the Czar, free to 
fight for China so long as the Dragon throne wanted 
his sword, but, at the same time, sworn never to 
forget that Eussian interests must take precedence of 
all others, and that his first duty was to carry on that 
subtle Eussianizing process by which his leaders hoped 
yet to permeate even the impassive Mongolians. 

During both the war and internal rebellion, Orloff 
did such good service for his new masters that for 
the past three years he had held the highest military 
position in China possible of attainment by an alien. 

Still, while given up to ambition, and clearly 
realizing the splendid possibilities which lay ahead 
of his present adventure, he felt more and more that 
he would willingly surrender his chances to know that 
the army which lay outside the town fought under 
the Eagle standard. Savage as the Russian soldiery 
were, they were not all barbarians, and Orloffs soul 
revolted at the thought of the butcheries which he 
knew must accompany the march of these Mongol 

While afar off he had stilled his conscience by the 
thought that it was, after all, for the glory of the Czar. 
Now that he stood once more on the land that had 
given him birth, and saw in the rapine of the morning 
a pretaste of the scourge he was letting loose, a strange 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


feeling of kinship awoke in him and filled his soul with 
shame. Crushing it back, he again called ambition 
to his aid, and now with a certain feeling of relief he 
began in a guarded fashion to discuss possibilities 
with his old friend. Personally Zenski was both 
ready and willing to fall in with his plans, for, as he 
reasoned with himself, he was far more likely to reap 
rewards under Orloffs rule than under that of a China- 
man, who, judging from his spy, was just as likely to 
behead his tools when done with as not. 

Far into the night the two men talked, for, apart 
from his own personal designs, Leroy had much to 
question the Count upon. As regards his enterprise, 
Zenski's report was most favourable. Leroy's own 
line of march until he reached Charleville could not, 
according to the Count, be seriously opposed, and, 
when Dromeroff had sacked Normanton, there was 
nothing to stay his advance until he reached the high 
stony tableland at the head of the Flinders Valley. 

' Where are we to find the enemy, Zenski?' laughed 

' Pardieu ! you will come to him in due time/ grinned 
Zenski. ' And Dromeroff may have brushes after he 
leaves Hughenden; but, after all, the real fighting 
must take place at Charleville or beyond.' 

' Not before ?' queried Leroy. 

' No ; you cannot call this an enemy's country,' 
replied the Count, pointing to the map. ' Thanks to 
McLoskie's policy, there are no settlers left for at least 
two hundred miles. Colonization has ceased, mon 
ami. This country is either in our hands or held by 
Melbourne and London corporations. Both classes 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


of property are worked on the tributary system 
through labour contractors in Macao and Hong Kong. 
Cheap labour grew too popular for McLoskie's promise 
to be kept, that aliens were only to be used for field- 
work on the plantations, and now the sweepings of 
Chinese prisons are brought up wholesale, landed at 
the Gulf, and sent to their destinations under Kalmuck 

' The people would not have stood it in my time V 
exclaimed Leroy. 

' As there is no white population, and no press 
except our own, there is no fuss/ replied Zenski. 
' Besides, the bosses and managers know how to keep 
things quiet in their own way.' 

' They have given themselves bound into my hand !' 
exclaimed the General exultantly. 

'You have but to advance, mon brave, 9 chuckled 
Zenski. 'The railway-lines are open, and the few 
officials and managers who wait for you can easily be 
disposed of. Our Intelligence Department, as your 
Commissary-General informed you, has arranged for 
the wants of the imperial forces, and horses and cattle 
are ready mustered all along both lines of railway.' 

As Zenski finished speaking, there was a pause. 
Instinctively the Count knew what was in his com- 
panion's mind ; in fact, he had been waiting all the 
evening for the question which Leroy appeared to 
hesitate to put. 

Bising at last, the General leant his hand on the 

' Where is Heather Cameron ?' he said slowly. 

' At Isis Downs.' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


4 Ah, it will be in our line of march.' 

'Hardly; still, the cavalry are sure to loot it,' 
replied Zenski. 'But doubtless the Camerons will 
seek refuge in Fort Mallarraway.' 

< Seek death, you mean ! ' exclaimed Leroy. ' Zenski, 
they must never be allowed to get there, or God help 

'God help them if they do not!' retorted the Count. 
For a little the General stood thinking. In all the 
years that had passed, he had never forgotten the love 
for which he had risked so much, for though he had 
worshipped at the shrine of ambition, he had admitted 
no mistress to find a shelter in his breast in the name 
of love. In the days that followed his escape he had 
decided, with the egotism of a strong-willed man, to 
put this fair picture far from him. Between Heather 
and his mental sight a veil of blood arose, rendering 
the vision of his lost love shadowy and indistinct, for, 
justify himself how he would, he felt that Harden's 
death had raised up a barrier between him and his 
heart's idol. Arguing thus, he had decided that, even 
could he return acquitted in the eyes of men, he yet 
could never dare to dim the whiteness of Heather's 
life with a companionship such as his. For a time 
Orloff held to his determination, aided by the excite- 
ments of escape and the manifold promptings of 
military ambition; but such aids are of little avail 
when the object of a man's affection remains pure in 
his own eyes. To a man betrayed, ambition has before 
to-day become a paramount passion ; to Orloff it grew 
daily less effective, just as a powerful specific loses its 
potency before the advance of an incurable disease. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Marching over desert steppes, or watching in the face 
of a wakeful enemy, the memory of Heather never left 
him, and at last the very force with which he had 
sought to kill his passion suggested the means by 
which he might again make of it a living reality. 
A soldier's life under semi-barbaric conditions had 
gradually produced a mental deterioration in Orloff. 
War at its best is a return to primeval conditions, 
and so its disciples insensibly grow to regard all 
things from a less exalted standard than other 
men. Through Zenski Orloff learned that Heather 
was still unmarried. Knowing what he did, this 
would once have appeared only the inevitable con- 
dition of a woman such as he held Heather to be, 
but now it came to him clothed with a subtle signifi- 
cance. She still loved and was waiting for him. 
Subject to be hanged for murder, even although his 
act had been that of a judge, he could never hope to 
meet her as Philip Orloff ; but as General Leroy what 
boundless possibilities might he not offer at the feet 
of his queen ! So, by a strange freak of fate, Heather's 
influence became the chief propelling force which 
urged Philip Orloff to undertake the conquest of 
his and her native land. Rousing himself from his 
reverie, Leroy stepped to the table and began to look 
over the map that lay on it. 

' How far is Isis Downs from Cloncurry ?' he 

' About two hundred miles.' 

' Why the devil didn't you get Cameron to take his 
daughter South ?' exclaimed the General. 

' I am not his keeper,' retorted Zenski. ' And 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


even so, I thought you wanted her in your own 

' To save her, yes — and now it must be done. I 
will start a troop under an officer I can trust to 
secure them before they get into that cursed fort; 
well-mounted men should be able to reach Isis Downs 
from Cloncurry in twenty-four hours.' 

'Possibly,' assented Zenski. Then, remembering 
that Hatten had called him a spy, a title to which 
the Count strongly objected, and further anxious, if 
possible, to wean Leroy from a pursuit which he felt 
was full of possible dangers to the expedition, he 
added: 'You may rest easy with regard to Miss 
Cameron, for, if I mistake not, she will be well 
cared for.' 

' What can her father do if these savages come on 
them ?' 

' Little, I admit ; but her cavalier seirente is not 
wanting in resource.' 

'What do you mean?' exclaimed Leroy in a low, 
fierce voice. ' By God ! be careful, Zenski ; remember 
I love this woman.' 

' So does Dick Hatten. Pardon if I expressed 
myself badly,' added the Count, seeing he had gone 
too far. 

' If we are to remain friends, make better choice 
of your similes,' retorted Leroy. 'Who is this 

' He was once in your troop in Brisbane, I under- 

' Ah, I remember ; so he is my rival ?' 

' Pardieu ! he would like to be, at any rate.' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


' Then, Heather does not love him/ said Leroy 

' She has not made me her confidant/ retort** the 
Count. ' Ma foi ! I have had other matters to attend 
to. Why not let this woman marry whom she will, 
Philip? Once already she has brought you ill-luck; 
why tempt fortune again for her sake ?' 

' Because I still love her.' 

' Bah ! you talk like a schoolboy/ exclaimed Zenski 

In this infatuation he foresaw the possible wreck of 
the whole enterprise ; for, knowing Orloff, he realized 
that once under the thraldom of this woman's presence, 
its leader was no longer to be relied upon. 

' Why should this matter trouble you ?' said Leroy 
coldly. ' I have not asked your advice, nor do I 
need it.' 

' You were glad of it once, Philip/ 

'Pardon my ingratitude, Zenski!' cried Leroy, 
dropping his hand on the Count's shoulder. ' I have 
not forgotten ; but in this affair I will not be guided. 
Call it fate, folly, what you will, I must go on.' 

' Then I will say no more/ muttered Zenski, 
shrugging his shoulders irritably. 'If this woman 
brings you to ruin, she will have only lived up to the 
traditions of her charming sex/ 

'You have forgotten the history of many women/ 
laughed Leroy. 

' If so, I have remembered that of one man/ retorted 
Zenski cynically. 

'Yourself, Count?' 

' Ma foi ! no ; Mark Antony, mon General. 9 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


When at last the two parted, Leroy rode back to 
the camp ; a soldier himself, he always lived among 
the men he led, sharing their hardships, and often 
joining in their rough amusements. Physically 
superior to most men, and always as ready to reward 
a gallant action as to visit with relentless hand an act 
of cowardice, he exercised a potent sway over the 
half-savage soldiery who fought under his banner. 
To-night, late as it was, he rode round all the out- 
posts, and after that sat for awhile smoking in his 
tent. Then, remembering that he had to start for 
Cloncurry at daybreak, he threw himself, dressed as 
he was, on his stretcher, and, with a soldier's economy 
of time, fell asleep. 


Digitized by VjOOQlC 

[ 242 ] 



On the afternoon which saw the streets of Point 
Parker full of armed and hostile soldiers, Frank 
McLean sat reading in the wide veranda of the old 
house at Cape York. Beside him lay two books, ' The 
Nomadic Hordes of Central Asia ' and ' The Eastern 
Question in Australia/ Having led an isolated life for 
years, his mind had naturally turned to the questions 
rising in the near future. After doing his full share 
of pioneering and adventure, he had arrived at that 
stage of life when a vigorous, wholesome-minded 
man naturally uses his brains more than his muscles. 
Still, in fertility of resource and contempt for danger, 
he was the same youth who, twenty years before, had 
carried out a daring journey from the head of the 
Burdekin to the north-eastern extremity of Australia, 
through an unknown and difficult country swarm- 
ing with hostile savages. Barefooted and in rags, he 
and his brother, accompanied by a few young fellows 
of the right stamp, and a group of black boys with no 
better weapons than the guns slung on their backs 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


and the tomahawks held in their hands, had conquered 
the manifold horrors of that drear ' no man's land.' 

Since that day pearlshelling among the coral reefs, ' 
scrub-shooting, and rambling through the islands and 
coast country, had found him work, and had enabled 
him to acquire a large knowledge of the savage races 
and the fauna and flora of the Pacific. Yet, though 
generally living alone, Frank was no misanthrope. 
Whenever a mail-steamer rounded the Point at 
Somerset, the eight-pounder before the old veranda 
belched out its salute, and whoever landed got a 
hearty old-time Australian welcome. This afternoon 
his mind ran upon the contents of the books beside 
him, in connection with the endless contradictory 
war rumours which filled the colonial papers. 

Suddenly the gate flew open, and a little man 
rushed on to the veranda. 

' Well, Archie, what's up ?' inquired McLean, look- 
ing his visitor over with calm surprise. 

' The wire's cut !' gasped Archie. 

' Cut, is it ?' grunted the veteran pioneer ; ' mend 
it, then !' 

For answer, the little man stamped with vexation. 

' Why, you little beggar, don't you bring yourself 
to an anchor, and get back your wind,' suggested 
McLean coolly. 

Archie Scrimour was an ill-formed, excitable dwarf 
in appearance, but, like many another manikin, he 
possessed both brain and heart enough for a gallant 
cavalier. He was at present agent for the Somerset 
Station, and being very fond of McLean, he had come 
to consult him with regard to his discovery. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


' Look here !' said his placid host, pouring out a 
stiff dram of Uam Var, i swallow this physic, and then 
you'll be able to tell what you've got to say.' 

Watching his patient swallow the dose, Frank 
started him with : 

' Well then, Mr. Scrimour, reel it off.' 

'The wire was cut two hours ago. I'm not sur- 
prised; for my suspicions have been awakened by 
many things that have come to me in a way I need 
not explain. I've been tapping for cipher corre- 
spondence the last two days, and I have just worked 
it out. Look here, you know something of cryptograms. 
Well, it comes to this, that a force is at this moment 
landing at the Gulf. My reading of the cipher is 
confirmed by the very last wire that came from 
Thursday Island. A pearlsheller reports that he 
saw, three days ago, a flotilla of steamers steering 
south, near Cape Arnheim. I believe that by this 
time every wire, both on the coast and inland as far 
as Cooktown and Charleville, is silent.' 

McLean was a good listener, but he was not given 
to unnecessary speech. Blowing a silver whistle, a 
gray-headed black boy answered his signal. 

* Eulah,' said his master, ' send the boys at once to 
yard the horses, and ask Mr. Walker to get up steam 
in the launch, and then come to me.' 

As Walker, the engineer, came in to report himself, 
McLean looked up from the ciphers. 

' 1 am not a bit surprised, Archie,' said he. 
' Walker, I'll be ready to start in three hours. I will 
take a couple of black boys. Get what Kanakas you 
need for stokers. Help yourself to whisky.' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


As the engineer walked away, McLean said : 
' There is not much time to arrange, Archie ; but I 
was actually brooding over what was likely to happen 
when you came in, and I think I've the right plan in 
my head. It is this : You will go straight along the 
line, mending the wire and forwarding letters to the 
right people on your road ; I will send Eulah with 
you, and a young active boy, and will give you what 
horses you need. Finch, McDonald, Herbert and 
Fraser, will all help you with horses and messengers. 
Of course you will leave your assistant here to keep 
up communication ; meantime, I shall go full steam 
to Cooktown, and start things there. Now I'll 
dictate the letters, and you write them.' 

By two in the morning the letters were written, 
Archie with the black boys was off to mend the line 
and raise the country, and McLean's launch was 
steering South, cutting the smooth waters of the 
Darrier Channel with impatient prow. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

[2 4 6] 



Four days before the attack on Point Parker, Ted 
Johnson drove Edith and her mother from Isis Downs 
to Cloncurry, where he had business. 
• Thoroughly alarmed by his visit to Fort Mallarraway, 
Cameron had suggested on his return that Mrs. Enson 
and her daughter should visit Brisbane, urging among 
other reasons that it was absolutely necessary in face 
of Edith's approaching marriage. To this arrange- 
ment the older lady was only too ready to agree, but 
when Cameron spoke to Heather about accompanying 
them, he was met by an absolute refusal, nor could 
any arguments alter the girl's determination. Filled 
with the liveliest apprehension for the future, the old 
squatter used every means in his power to alter his 
daughter's resolve. But Heather remained immovable ; 
she would wait, she said, and keep house for him until 
everything was prepared, and then they could go down 
together to be present at the wedding. 

Driven to desperation, her father pointed out the 
possible dangers to which she might expose herself by 
remaining with him, but this only the more fixed her 

Digitized by 



in her desire to stay. Besides, as she argued, might 
there not be even greater risks in Brisbane? At last, 
won over by her loving entreaties, Cameron, with a 
heart full of misgiving, gave his consent, and Johnson 
drove off without her. 

As Ted stood with the two women on the Cloncurry 
railway - station, waiting for the train that was to 
carry them South, Edith, in wistful, strangely tender 
words, begged him not to long delay his coming. 
But sweet as her request sounded to the lover, long 
accustomed to her changeful humours, it at the same 
time filled him with a sense of future evil. To Mrs. 
Enson, who, strong in her fealty to the Count, scouted 
all thoughts of danger, the trip held out nothing 
except pleasant possibilities. But Johnson could see 
both in Edith's regrets for the absence of Heather, 
and in a certain reluctance to go, which now began 
to possess her, that her mind was, like his own, 
oppressed by a sense of impending disaster. As he 
said good-bye at the carriage-door, the girl hesitated 
for a moment, then, leaning forward, kissed him 
passionately on the lips. A fat man sitting in the 
corner noted with languid interest the teat-dimmed 
eyes, and bent a little forward, but the shriek of the 
whistle deafened his curious oars, and only her lover 
heard the faint ' God guard you, Ted V that came from 
ihe red, trembling lips. 

Walking back to his hotel, Johnson was struck, as 
he had never been befor6, by the preponderance of 
coolie labour. Everywhere an alien tongue fell on 
his ears. In the past, ' John ' had often bieen a 
fruitful subject for amusement and chaff, but to-night 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


each stolid, expressionless face filled him with aver- 
sion and distrust. As obedient slaves their worth 
was undoubted, but as men to defend the result of 
their toil they appeared to the manager beneath 

Walking into the telegraph-office after dinner, 
Johnson noticed one of Zenski's Kalmuck overseers 
reading a message. As the man thrust it into his 
pocket, it by some mischance fell to the floor. 
Glancing at it insensibly, Ted noticed that the 
message was both long and written in cipher. 

Trivial as the incident was, the manager could not 
dismiss it from his mind, and even in his broken, 
dream -disturbed sleep, the man's cunning, half- 
fearful glance, as he picked up the telegram, lowered 
on him with startling distinctness. 

Just as the dawn was breaking, Johnson got his 
four-in-hand hooked to, and drove out of Cloncurry. 
Beaching the railway gates, he found them closed 
against him, and cursing the stupidity of the keeper, 
he was about to open them himself, when the rumble 
of a train coming from the North warned him to get 
his Bush horses into clear ground. Wheeling his 
leaders, he moved back about a hundred yards and 
waited. Presently the train came in sight. Occupied 
at first with his horses, Johnson had no time to 
watch its approach, but just as it flashed past he 
looked up. In front of the engine, mounted on a 
platform, was a machine-gun of some kind, and round 
it stood three or four men in uniform. In a moment 
it was gone, and then truck after truck, packed with 
armed, savage-looking troops, moved past the thunder- 

Digitized by VjOOQlC 


struck watcher. Suddenly the cipher message recalled 
itself to his mind, already prepared for all that was 
most unexpected. ' The Bussians !' he gasped ; then, 
as he looked again, a certain resemblance to another 
race struck him with irresistible force, and he ex- 
claimed : ' No, by heaven ! they're Chinamen of some 

As he uttered the words, the thought of Edith rose 
before him. ' Thank heaven, she's on the Government 
line by now/ he murmured. * But what of those left 
at Isis Downs ?' He realized that he must warn them 
without a moment's delay. What if the train to 
Hughenden was, even as he sat idly there, hurrying 
down on his friends another horde of savages ? 

Gathering up his team, he again drove towards the 
gate, but even as he did so, a volley of musketry rang 
out in the direction of the station, followed in quick 
succession by a dread chorus of yells and screams of 
fear and despair. 

' Open the gate !' shouted Ted, as the man in charge 
came forward and leant over the bar ; but the fellow 
only shook his head and grinned. ' Curse you ! are 
you deaf? open the gate !' repeated Ted. 

In the distance he could hear another train. ' I'm 
trapped,' he muttered, as he once more turned his 
horses' heads. Filled as the one which had preceded 
it, the second train rushed by, some of its occupants 
taking flying shots at Johnson. In the distance he 
could see a crowd of coolies running after a man; 
stabbed in the back, he fell in the dusty road. Now 
they caught sight of the waggonette, and, yelling like 
fiends, ran towards it. In less than five minutes they 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


would be on him. ' I must jump the gate, or I'm a 
gone coon/ muttered Johnson. 

Springing to the ground, he whipped off his near 
leaders' collar and harness, then, cutting the reins 
short with his knife, jumped on his back. Now the 
coolies were not twenty yards behind him, and guessing 
his object, the gate-keeper stood waving his arms in 
the crossing. Taking hold of his horse's head, Johnson 
drove his heels into his ribs, and sent him at the bars. 

Balked by the keeper's gesticulating, the leader, 
good jumper as he was, began to waver, but giving a 
yell that made the man spring aside, Ted drove his 
knife into his horse's ribs. Mad with pain, the leader 
rose in the air, and pulling him almost on his 
haunches as he landed, his rider sent him at the 
farther gate. With a crash and a scramble he got 
over, and working himself into his seat, Johnson 
galloped on without looking back 1 — to spread the 
dread news that the spoiler had come, and that 
Cloncurry and Point Parker were given over to 
demons of blood and lust. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

[2 5 I] 


'hatten's ringers.' 

When once convinced by President Musgrave that the 
danger of attack from the Gulf was not only possible 
but probable, Cameron had thrown himself heart and 
soul into the question of defence. Hearing on his 
return from the Fort that McLoskie was expected at 
Longreach, he made it his business to meet him, and, 
while avoiding all reference to Zenski's possible 
treachery — as a useless waste of argument likely to 
defeat his object with the Minister — the squatter 
placed before the Premier the absolute want of 
organization in the North in the event of a Eussian 

As white labour had become superseded both in 
the townships and on the stations, the various volun- 
teer companies, both horse and foot, had gradually 
dwindled away, until now, what with migration and 
that inability to stick to anything which forms so 
strong a characteristic in the modern Australian, the 
defence force of the North was little better than a 
name. Aware that all this was both known end 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


disregarded by McLoskie, who, now that he had 
no unions to intimidate, looked on the volunteer 
forces as a useless expense, Cameron decided to make 
a personal matter of his request. Though politically 
opposed to Sir Peter, in private life they were still 
friends, and, being a wealthy man with undoubted 
influence, Cameron knew that he could ask a favour 
with fair chances of its being granted. Approaching 
the subject from a billet-seeker's standpoint only, the 
squatter described how Hatten, a protege of his own, 
had lost his station, and was now without work of any 
kind. Then, touching lightly on war possibilities, 
rather as a joke than otherwise, he reminded 
McLoskie that Dick had already held a commission 
in the Mounted Rifles. Being an Australian politician, 
the Premier rather admired Cameron's cool advocacy 
of his friend's claims to loot the Treasury. 

* Then you think the Northern Mounted Infantry 
want reorganizing, eh, Cameron ?' said he. 

' Most undoubtedly.' 

* And Mr. Hatten seems to you the right man to do 
it ?' chuckled the Premier. 

' I know of no one better fitted ; and, besides, it will 
not be a bad move politically to give an Australian a 
show in the service.' 

'My dear Cameron,' replied McLoskie with dignity, 
'I, as you should know, am actuated by a man's 
merits, not his nationality.' 

1 Of that we have had ample proof,' replied Cameron. 
' Still, in this case I think you will have little trouble 
in deciding.' 

' None, my dear fellow,' said the Premier graciously. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


'It is, I assure you, a pleasure to oblige any friend of 

So it happened that Dick Hatten was appointed 
Staff- Adjutant to the Northern Mounted Infantry. 

Throwing all the weight of his personal popularity 
into the scale, Captain Hatten began his work of 
reorganization, only to find how well-nigh hopeless a 
task lay before him. Many of the best men were 
gone, and of those who still had their names on the 
roll, the greater part were utterly disheartened by the 
apathy and neglect of the Government. 

Backed by Cameron's offer of horses, Hatten, how- 
ever, succeeded in enlisting a troop of cavalry from 
among the managers and men still left in the Isis 
Downs district, and, through Cameron's influence, 
their services as volunteers were accepted. 

When, however, Hatten sent in a requisition for 
fifty sabres, he was informed that there was not a 
spare sword in the colony, and that he must wait 
until they were ordered from England. 

Apprised of the state of affairs through a paragraph 
which had slipped into one of the papers, a specu- 
lative Jew, who had bought up a collection of old 
Waterloo swords, came forward and offered to do 
business. But of this Dick heard nothing until a few 
months later, when the Government were glad to 
secure them at famine prices. 

How to arm his men puzzled Hatten, and still to 
let them disband was not to be thought of. At last 
an inspiration seized him, as he sat furbishing up his 
old sabre, the only weapon of offence in the whole 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


' I'll make 'em lancers and chance it !' he exclaimed. 

* Where are you going to get the lances from?' 
asked Ewan Cameron slowly. 

* Never you mind, Ewan !' retorted Dick. ' I'm 
going to do it in spite of the infernal fools down in 

' Mallee sticks pointed and hardened in the fire,' 
laughed Ewan incredulously. 

'No/ answered Dick; 'any straight sticks I can 
Jay hands on, with shear blades riveted on their 

At the next parade Hatten put the situation before 
his men. 

* The authorities are unable to send us a sword 
under four months,' said he ; * if I am right in my 
reckoning, we will have to fight in less than two. 
Will you sit idly waiting, or will you arm yourselves?' 

After a pause, one of the men said : 
'We are willing enough, but how can it be done ?' 
' There is only one way that I know of,' replied 
Hatten. ' There are cases of old shears in the stores 
at Hughenden, and odd packets lying about most of 
the stations. Now that the machines have taken 
their place, the store-keepers will, I dare say, let us 
have them for the asking. Let each man get a pair, 
break off one blade, and level down the shoulder so 
that it will offer no resistance when being withdrawn, 
then sharpen the back and rivet .the handle on to 
a strong, light shaft of wood, and he will have an 
Australian lance, not as well finished, certainly, as 
an English one, but quite as reliable as most of 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Struck by the originality of the idea, the men took 
it up on the spot. 

* Let each man carry the second blade in case of a 
break,' said their officer, as he dismissed them. 

' My oath ! we'll tomahawk 'em like blooming 
ringers,' shouted Billy the Kid, as Dick rode away. 

And so the Isis Downs troop won the name of 
' Hatten's Eingers.' 

Putting in the night at a friend's diggings, Hatten 
started before sunrise for Isis Downs, intending to 
reach Hughenden the same evening. Making good 
use of the morning, he and Billy rode up to the 
horse-paddock at about breakfast-time. Leaving the 
trainer to shut the gate, Hatten jogged slowly on. 
Heather's refusal to go South had caused him as deep 
concern as Cameron, for while admiring the filial 
love which impelled her to stay by her father's side 
in the time of peril, he wished with his whole soul 
that the old squatter had insisted on her departure 
with the rest. In his mind visions rose of the woman 
he loved given over to the unspeakable barbarities of 
brutal Cossacks, or at best slain by some friendly 
hand. For all that he knew, his might be the very 
hand marked out for this gruesome act of mercy. A 
clatter of hoofs woke him from his reverie, and glanc- 
ing over his shoulder, he saw a man racing up the 
track. Something in the appearance both of horse 
and rider seemed familiar, and turning his horse, 
Hatten waited. Leaving a cloud of dust behind his 
flying hoofs, the horse passed Billy like a flash. As 
he did, his rider shouted something to the trainer, 
who now also put spurs to his mount. Now he was 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


within a hundred yards of Dick, and, with a feeling 
akin to fear, the Adjutant recognised in the reeking 
horse one of his trooper's chargers, and in his wild, 
ragged rider, Ted Johnson. 

Waving his arm, Johnson shouted hoarsely : 

' They've landed.' 

'What — the Russians!' exclaimed Dick as Ted 
pulled up. 

' No. — Chinamen !' gasped Ted. 

* How did you hear ? There must be a mistake.' 

* I didn't hear ; I saw them myself, man.' 
'Where?' asked Hatten, beginning to think his 

chum had ' gone off his head.' 

' Coming into Cloncurry yesterday morning.' 
'My God! you don't mean that, Ted!' exclaimed 

Then Johnson told him how he had got Edith and 
her mother away, and described what he saw next 
morning at the railway gates ; how he had ridden 
bare back all that day and night to bring the news, 
and how his gallant horse had dropped dead close 
to the very house which Hatten had left a few 
hours ago. 

* Ferguson lent me his to come on with,' concluded 
Ted ; ' now, what's to be done ?' 

'You're a brick, old man!' said Dick admiringly; 
' go and have a sleep, and then rouse the boys. I 
must push on to Hughenden. God only knows if 
another batch of these devils may not be down upon 
the town already.' 

' Sleep be hanged !' growled Johnson; 'wait while 
I have a drink of tea, and I'm with you.' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


' No,' said Hatten after a moment's thought ; ' I 
can't afford the time, and you can do better work by 

* You are my superior officer,' replied Johnson, who 
now held a commission in the Isis Downs troop ; 
' only, for God's sake, lfit me do something !' 

' Get the other waggonette and a team ready for a 
start at a moment's notice, and explain matters to 
Cameron,' said Dick. ' Then ride out and tell all 
the men on this side to muster at Isis Downs to- 
morrow with the best arms they can rake up. I will 
warn Musgrave as I go past, and will send Billy back 
to-night with final orders.' 

Putting his horse into a brisk canter, Hatten rode 
past the house, followed by Billy, while Johnson rode 
up to the stable to tell his news and obey his chief's 


Digitized by VjOOQIC 

[2 5 8] 



When first Johnson told his story, Cameron sat as a 
man stunned. Then, as he realized that the horror 
which filled even his sleep with anxious dreams had 
come, the old squatter became possessed by a feverish 
anxiety to place his child beyond the reach of fiends, 
who he now knew were more to be dreaded than the 
Russians themselves. 

Heather, while experiencing that fear which under 
such conditions must strike the heart of every woman, 
crushed back her first impulse of terror for the sake 
of the trembling old man, who took her in his arms 
and fell into a passion of self-upbraiding. 

Powerless to offer comfort, Johnson slipped out of 
the room, and, calling a black boy, ordered him to run 
in and stable four harness horses. Then, going into 
the buggy-shed, he began to oil a waggonette, generally 
used as a ration-cart, but now the only trap left in 
which to escape. While he was tightening up some 
bolts, Cameron came up to him. 

Now that he had got over the first shock of sur- 
prise, the old squatter was once more the self-reliant 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


pioneer. From the first his only fear had been for 
his daughter, and now the girl had succeeded in im- 
buing him with a hopefulness as to her future which 
she hardly felt in her own heart. Helping Johnson, 
and discussing with him future possibilities, Cameron 
decided that they had little to fear from the direction 
of Cloncurry. From the Hughenden side, however, 
always supposing a force was advancing from Nor- 
manton, both men agreed that danger was likely to 
come. Though off the direct line of march, the 
enemies' scouts were nearly certain to reach Isis 
Downs on their foraging expeditions. 

'If we don't hear from Hatten to-night, I will 
start at daybreak for Longreach with Heather,' said 
Cameron, ' and send her by train to Springsure ; 
where she ought to be safe with the Westlys.' 
, ' I'd go whether I heard or not.' 

* You're right ; then I can be back all the sooner to 
strike a blow for Queensland with you all,' exclaimed 
the old man. 

' Never mind us, sir,' said Johnson ; ' you look 
after Heather ; we'll fight all the better if we know 
you're out of harm's way.' 

'I never shirked work this fifty years, and I'm not 
going to do it now,' replied Cameron stoutly. 

After a hurried luneh Johnson started away to 
deliver Dick's orders. As he had to call at the man's 
place who had lent him the horse, he rode it and le4 
another on which to get back. All the hot afternoon 
he cantered over the treeless, broken Downs, delivering 
his call to arms, and at last, about eleven at night, 
began to again draw ijear Isis Downs. Now that his 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


work was over, weariness began to creep into the 
man's iron sinews, and to lie like a leaden weight on 
his eyelids. Jogging along with his bridle-reins lying 
loose on his neck, the stock-horse made a bee-line for 
home, and at last, worn out with the fatigue and excite- 
ment of the past two days, the manager fell asleep 
in his saddle. Retaining his balance instinctively, 
Johnson slept on for a couple of miles, when his horse, 
like himself overcome with weariness, stumbled. 

Losing his balance, Johnson fell forward. Then, 
roused by the shock, he pulled himself together, and, 
shaking his horse up, looked round. A glance told 
him that he was passing a bend of the stony creek, 
and that he was still six miles from home. Just as 
he hit his heels into his mount's ribs again, he caught 
a strange, eerie sound rising from the other side of 
the creek. Filled with a certain curious desire to 
solve the mystery, he fastened up his horse, and, 
crouching down, crept to the edge of the bank. As 
he looked cautiously through the coolibahs, a flame 
shot up on the farther side, while the guttural mur- 
murings became more distinct. A camp of strange 
beings was close to him. Half of them were still 
mounted, the others were cutting up the carcases of 
a couple of bullocks. In the firelight he could catch 
the gleam of arms, and as the blaze rose between 
him and the butchers, their broad, yellow faces and 
coarse masses of hair stood out with ghastly distinct- 
ness against the sombre background. They were 
Kalmucks, men such as he had seen flash past him 
two mornings ago at Cloncurry. How they had 
come, he took no time to think. Their presence was 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


enough for him. Judging from those he could see, 
Johnson reckoned there were at least fifty in sight ; 
how many more might be round the bend he wasted no 
time in trying to discover. Great God ! others might 
be at Isis Downs even now. As this thought flashed 
through his mind, he crept back noiselessly to his horse, 
and, blindfolding him, led him carefully past the 
light. Once out of earshot, he jumped on his back, 
and, driving home the spurs, raced for his life in the 
direction of Isis Downs. 

Taking Cameron into the smoking-den, Ted told 
of his fearful discovery. To the squatter the news 
was both unexpected and appalling. In the face 
of the enemies' near presence, could he dare to travel 
South unprotected as he was ? while, on the other 
hand, Hatten's letter, brought from Hughenden by 
Billy, told of approaching peril. According to Hatten, 
the town was full of vague rumours of trains from 
Normanton crowded with troops, of telegraph-wires 
cut, of the horses mustered in Spero's yards along 
the line being mounted by savage horsemen, and 
also whisperings of fire and slaughter, repeated, but 
not believed. As all telegraphic communication with 
Normanton was blocked, Hatten warned Cameron to 
be prepared for instant flight South, and expressed 
the opinion that bands of mounted devils might 
appear on the Downs at any moment. He was busy 
rallying what forces he could muster, and in throwing 
up a defence of fallen timber; but, as he had no 
artillery and few arms, he had no hope of holding the 
town, and intended, after feeling the enemy, to fall 
back on Fort Mallarraway. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


In face of Hatten's message, Cameron had decided 
to start at daybreak ; but now that Ted had come on 
Kalmucks within six miles of the station, this deter- 
mination appeared more than foolhardy. At last it 
was decided to make for Fort Mallarraway ; then if, 
as they hoped, Hughenden was still safe, Heather could 
be sent by train to Eockhampton. If not, her chances 
among its defenders would be greater than if pursued 
by the savages, with no bigger escort to protect her 
than Isis Downs could provide. 

Now that the danger was at their very doors, the 
two discussed every possibility with the calmness of 
brave men conscious of their peril and determined to 
throw away no chance in their efforts to escape 
from it. 

At Heather's earnest request it was decided that 
she should ride Io. Knowing how Dick valued the 
mare, the girl insisted that she should not be left 
behind, and, as she explained, she would be safer on 
horseback than in the waggonette. As it was, the 
trap would be well loaded, for, besides old Margaret 
and the two other girls, their belongings and an extra 
supply of firearms and ammunition must be carried 
in it. 

Outside, the moonless sky was now covered with 
heavy, riftless clouds, and the night had settled down 
as black as pitch. Still, something had to be done at 
once, for the Kalmucks would certainly strike the main 
station track after sunrise. 

Besides Cameron and Johnson, there were only 
Ewan, Billy, and a priceless black boy, named Micky 
Nerang, at the house. The plan of escape was soon 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


arranged. First, Io was saddled, and then, after one 
silent embrace from her father, Heather rode away 
under Micky's guidance, parallel with the road, but 
not upon it. Muffling its wheels, the men then 
dragged 'the waggon across the creek, and left it about 
half a mile off the road. They could do little more 
till dawn. Heather, led by Micky, could creep on at a 
foot-pace in comparative safety, but. those who re- 
mained had perforce six hours of black darkness 
to get through. An hour before the dawn, the men 
led the four horses over to the waggonette, and 
hooked them to. 

' You'd better come up on the box-seat with me, 
Maggie/ said Johnson. 

' Bedad, is it the Chows yer boltin' from ?' 
demanded Maggie, with strong disgust ; ' by the 
powers ! oi'd foight tin of them yaller divils meself.' 

' That's all right ; now please hold your tongue/ 
muttered Johnson. 'When the fighting's about to 
begin, I'll let you know.' 

Cameron had insisted upon Ted driving, both 
because he was a singularly cool and masterly whip, 
and, further, for the reason that he felt it his duty 
to guard the rear. 

' I mean to see the last of the old place/ he said 
in answer to Ted's protest, ' so say no more about it. 
When there is a streak of light, jog on ; then, when 
you can see, let the horses go for twenty minutes. 
That will give you a good start. After that nurse 
them ; don't go above seven miles an hour. We will 
be within two miles of you, and one of us will race up 
as soon as it is time to make a rush. Eemember that you 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


have twenty miles to go ; still, a stern chase is a long 
one, and if these devils can knock fifteen miles an 
hour out of their horses, this team if put to it can do 
twelve. If we are run close, let Heather ride for it 
while we block the road and make the most of our 

There was another reason why Cameron had 
decided to stay. In the cellar of the house was stored 
a stock of firearms and ammunition intended for the 
use of the Isis Downs troop. These warlike supplies 
had been purchased by Cameron privately, and it had 
been his intention to have given them out to the troop 
as a surprise at their next parade. This was now 
impossible, but the old squatter had decided to pro- 
vide a surprise for all that. He had determined to 
tempt the enemy to make an assault upon the house 
in force, and then to blow them into the air. Bude 
dummy figures, constructed during the long night 
hours, stood on the veranda tad at the windows, 
while loaded guns, securely strapped to the posts, 
pointed down the road, with wires stretching from 
their triggers to the clump of azaleas where the 
horses stood. 

When all their preparations were completed, 
Cameron, Ewan, and Billy, now brought to the 
broad level of brotherhood by this common danger, 
drank a last solemn ' cup of kindness ' in memory of 
the old house. 

Then they sat in the growing light and watched. 
At last Cameron lifted his finger, and pointed to the 
swell of the Downs to the south. A black cloud was 
drifting over the surface as if blown by a hurricane. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Presently the dark mass began to resolve itself into 
distinct atoms. 

'Hadn't we better make tracks, boss?' muttered 

' Take it easy/ replied Cameron coolly ; ' we must 
let them sight the bait, lad.' 

As he spoke, the old man rose, and with his 
companion walked up and down the long veranda. 
When the horde was within about a quarter of a mile 
they caught sight of the moving figures, and came to 
a halt, yelling like all the fiends in hell. Then one 
half began to sweep round in a half-circle, while 
the other dismounted and dashed straight for the 

' Now for it,' said Cameron, as the three men 
crawled among the azaleas. 

Mounting their horses, Billy and Ewan sat, holding 
in their right hands the wires connected with the 
rifle triggers. 

Now Cameron was also in the saddle. 

As a score of wild figures jumped into the veranda, 
he gave the signal, and three rifle-shots rang out 
above the hoarse shouts of the Kalmucks. Then, as 
the assailants poured in, the squatter pulled the wire 
he held in his own hand. In an instant the roof of 
the old house parted in a blaze of fire, and from the 
blackened sky timber, wreckage, and fragments of 
human bodies fell earthward in gruesome confusion. 
Driving spurs into their plunging horses, the three 
men galloped away unnoticed. 

' Ewan,' said Cameron, as soon as they had got 
under cover of the creek, ' go ahead, boy, and keep 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Ted moving; this blow-up won't stop these fiends 

Johnson had driven so well that he had picked up 
Heather and done nine miles of the road before 
Ewan pulled him up. Heather was now riding in the 
waggonette, while Micky Nerang was cantering beside 
it, leading Io. 

In a few words Ewan told what had happened, 
but on the subject of advice as to pace he held his 
tongue. The young Scot did not see how they could 
be doing better. The team was fresh, and had to be 
held, for Ted was saving them for a rush, if wanted. 
Fulling his horse into a walk, Ewan kept steadily on, 
watch in hand. It was a close calculation of miles 
and minutes. Seventeen minutes after the waggon 
left him, Cameron arrived at full gallop. 'Ted'fr 
about two miles ahead !' said his nephew. 

' And these hell-hounds are not above two behind!' 
exclaimed Cameron. * Gallop on, and push Johnson; 
he's sure to lose time at that infernal pinch this side 
of the Fort.' 

Biding desperately, the young Scotchman caught 
the waggon up again just five miles from their 
destination. But again his cool, practical brain 
warned him not to interfere. ' If Johnson makes the 
rush now,' he reasoned, ' will the horses be fit to face 
the pinch, and to do the last two miles ? He is doing 
well, and will be at the top of the hill in less than 
twenty minutes, and the Kalmucks must be at least 
three miles behind us. I'll let him gang his ain gait.' 

In less than ten minutes Cameron was once more 
beside him. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 






Digitized by VjOOQIC 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


' They're within a mile of us!' shouted the squatter, 
his eyes blazing with apprehension. ' Tell Johnson 
to race for dear life !' 

Thoroughly alarmed, Ewan again galloped on, 
scarcely daring to breathe until he reached the foot 
of the rocky rise. 

Heather was again mounted, and was climbing up 
the steep ascent after Micky, while the team was 
beginning to crawl up behind. 

' Thank God ; he's done the right thing,' muttered 
Ewan, driving his horse up the hill. 

As the waggonette neared the top, distant sounds of 
pursuit fell on his ears, and turning his horse on the 
summit, he caught sight of Cameron and Billy racing 
not five hundred yards ahead of a cloud of dust, out 
of which rose the gleam of steel and the shadowy 
forms of the yelling Kalmucks. Gazing from his 
vantage-ground, the reckless horsemanship of th6 
savages appalled Ewan. With spurs like knives, and 
quirts of hide dripping with blood hanging from their 
wrists, they forced on the unhappy animals they rode 
until they stumbled and fell, dying under them. 
Then, with practised quickness, they changed their 
saddles, and mounted the spare horses which, after 
the manner of their race, many of them led. On the 
pinch they left a trail of crippled and dying horses, 
and many of the riders fell behind ; but some twenty 
or thirty still held on, galloping up the steep face of 
the rock. 

As soon as Cameron and Billy came up, the three 
men raced on for their lives. A mile ahead they met 
two scouts from the Fort. They had just seen a lady 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


and a black boy, followed by a trap driven hard. 
The thunder of hoofs now showed that the Kalmucks 
were upon them, and round the edge of a patch of 
scrub they came at a whirling gallop. With one 
common impulse the five men poured their rifles into 
them, and spurred off, sending their revolver bullets 
into their faces as they raced for the Fort. As they 
dashed up to the stockade, Johnson and Heather 
passed through the gates, and a volley from the 
picket drove the men sent by Leroy to capture 
Heather reeling back out of fire, uttering fierce yells 
of disappointment and rage. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

[ 269 J 



The rumours of which Hatten had spoken in his letter 
to Cameron were only too true. Normanton had fallen 
into the hands of Dromeroff. Taken utterly by sur- 
prise, and totally unprepared to oppose a serious 
attack, the volunteer force and white population 
fought desperately, but without cohesion, with the 
inevitable result that they were cut to pieces, and the 
savage soldiery provided with a pretext for the per- 
petration of a general massacre. 

Despatching a column by rail to effect a junction 
with the Charleville reinforcements at Cloncurry, and 
another to occupy Croydon, and hold the line from 
there to Cairns, Dromeroff advanced on Hughenden 
with his main body of troops. Undeterred by any of 
Leroy's scruples as to the treatment of women and 
children, Dromeroff, while professing to obey his 
General's orders, secretly let it be understood that his 
object was to create a reign of terror. Eelieved from 
the fear of possible punishment, his savage cavalry 
carried out their commander's wishes with fiendish 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


completeness, sparing neither sex nor age in their 
onward march. 

Soon after daybreak on the morning of Cameron's 
escape from Isis Downs, the first of Dromeroffs trains 
approached Hughenden. 

Determined to give the women and children a 
chance to escape, Hatten had torn up the line about a 
mile from the town, and thrown up a rude breastwork 
of trees. Behind this feeble defence he had posted all 
his available force, but as he was totally without 
artillery, and short both of small arms and ammu- 
nition, he recognised that at best he led a forlorn 

Stopping the train some distance from Hatten's 
barricade, the officer in command of the attacking 
column began to derail his infantry. Forming them 
under the shelter of some timber, he led them on, 
while the Maxim gun in front of the engine poured a 
heavy fire over their heads into the breastwork. 
Afraid to waste a shot, Hatten ordered his men to lie 
down and wait. Advancing in open order and firing as 
they advanced, the Mongols came within fifty yards 
of the breastwork. Then, just as they closed on their 
centre and charged, Dick gave the word, and an iron 
hail poured into their crowded ranks. For an. instant 
they wavered, then, rallying to their leader's call, 
rushed on once more. But again a volley met them, 
and breaking, they fell back on their supports. As 
they retired, about fifty mounted men armed with 
Dick's lances charged their flank. But, opening on 
the advancing horsemen, the Maxim gun swept them 
down beneath a withering fire. Unable to withstand 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


the shower of bullets that rained on their shattered 
ranks, the cavalry melted away, leaving two-thirds of 
their number on the blood-smeared ground. 

Glancing between two logs, Hatten could see 
another train sweeping round the bend. 

' It's all up,' he mused despairingly, ' God send 
they've got the women away.' 

In front the enemy were preparing for another 
attack. The defenders could see the Mongols' officers 
fiercely gesticulating. 

' I hope they won't give the other beggars time to 
outflank me,' muttered Hatten grimly. He had his 
wish, for, scorning to wait for help against so in- 
significant a foe, the Mongol commander, sword in 
hand, led the assault. 

Again Dick's rifles rang out ; but pistolling any of 
their men who wavered, the officers still urged them 
on. In another minute they were beneath the breast- 
work, and, following their leader, they rushed it at 
the point of the bayonet. Fighting for their lives 
and their women's honour, the ill-armed townsmen 
fought like heroes, and many a yellow-faced Mongol 
fell back with his brains dashed out beneath their 
fiercely-wielded rifle-butts. Hatten met the Eussian 
who led them face to face as he landed over the 
barricade, and with a swift downstroke split his skull 
before he coul<J articulate his shout of victory. But 
even as he fell another took his place, and, over- 
matched both in discipline and arms, Dick's green 
levies gave before the Mongol bayonets, and then, 
seized with panic, broke and fled. Borne back by the 
terror-stricken crowd, Hatten made desperate efforts 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


to rally enough to cover his retreat, but his men were 
deaf alike to curses and entreaty. 

'Jump up, Captain!' shouted a voice beside him, 
and looking round, he saw one of his cavalrymen 
holding a horse, and surrounded by a dozen other 

Springing into the saddle, Hatten galloped off 
towards the railway-station, followed by the remnant 
of the Hughenden Mounted Eifles. On the platform 
confusion reigned unchecked. One train packed with 
women and children had started, and another had 
just run in. As Dick rode up, the crowd on the 
platform rushed to the carriages. 

* Women and children first !' roared Hatten, as half 
a dozen men, mad with drink and fear, crushed 
through the press. 

'You be d dP growled one of the ruffians, 

dragging an old woman from her seat and springing 
into her place. 

Jumping off his horse, Hatten made for the carriage, 
followed by half a dozen troopers. 

'Come out of that, you cur!' he said sternly, but 
the man did not move. 

Stretching out his hand, Dick laid hold of his collar 
and dragged him out. As he landed on the platform, 
the man drew a knife and lunged at him, but before 
he had time to strike, Dick sprang aside, and, whipping 
out his revolver, fired. Throwing up his arms, the 
man fell to the ground, and holding the smoking 
revolver in his hand, Hatten shouted, ' By God, I'll 
serve every man who doesn't come out of the train 
the same way !' Backed by his troopers, their Adjutant 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


now restored some sort of order. It was heart-breaking 
work at best. Here a woman begged him to find a 
child she had lost in the crush, while another implored 
him on her knees to allow her husband to remain. 
Sisters clung to brothers, and mothers cursed him for 
holding back their sons to die on the Mongols' bayonets. 
But firm to his resolve, Hatten allowed only women 
and children to enter the carriages, and at last, amid 
wails of sorrow and curses of despair, the train moved 
out of the station. 

An engine drawing a mixed collection of trucks now 
drew up. It was the last train, and the station seemed 
more crowded than ever. As it stopped, Hatten 
realized that the firing was perilously near, and. now 
a blood-stained, wild-eyed crowd began to mingle with 
those already waiting. This time no human power 
could stay the wild rush for ignoble life. The Mongols 
were at hand, and each panic-stricken wretch thought 
only of himself. 

Eushing to the gates, Hatten determined to hold 
them with his life. Little as he cared for the safety 
of some of the men, he remembered that there were 
still women among them. Fighting his way through 
the press, followed by a few gallant comrades, he 
nearly reached his goal ; but when only a few steps 
from the entrance, a fresh rush of fugitives swept him 
aside, and on their heels panted the red-handed 
children of death. 

Dragging him with them, the troopers forced their 
way to the side-gate, where their horses stood as yet 
unnoticed by the Mongols. 

Eealizing now that all was over, Hatten mounted 


Digitized by VjOOQIC 


with the rest. For a moment his eyes took in the 
whole fearful scene : the screaming women pushed 
back by frantic men only to fall on the bloody bayonets 
of their foes ; the children tossed from point to point 
in wanton devilry. Then his ears caught the. shriek 
of the whistle and the fearful cries of those who were 
being ground to death between the wheels and the 
bloody pavement, and over all rang the yells of the 
Mongols as they thrust their bayonets into the passing 
trucks, and dragged back struggling women by their 
hair from the still open doors. In a moment it all 
passed before him, but instantaneous as it was, its 
gruesome impression never faded from before his 

' Let's get, Captain,' muttered the man who had 
saved him before. 

Tearing his eyes away from the awful picture, 
Hatten saw a crowd of Mongols and coolies running 
towards them. 

* Thank God, here are some devils to kill!' he 
muttered grimly as he drew his sabre. 

Sitting home in his saddle, he waved it above his 
head and shouted ' Charge !' Weary with slaughter 
the Mongols scattered before their rush like chaff, 
and without looking back, Hatten and his troopers 
galloped away towards Fort Mallarraway. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

[ 275 ] 



In Fort Mallarraway a feeling of doubt and unrest 
pervaded every breast. Ignorant that the Kalmucks, 
who had so nearly captured Cameron, had been sent 
by Leroy for that special purpose, the men in the Fort 
naturally concluded that they were but the scouts of a 
larger body. At any moment the enemy might be 
down upon them in force, and so the outworks were 
manned, and every worker attached to the establish- 
ment was called in. 

During the morning, Colonel Collins, the newly- 
appointed Chief of the Defence Commission, and his 
colleague, Major Keith, called to inspect the Fort on 
their way to Hughenden. The Government, it ap- 
peared, had at last awoke to a certain sense of possible 
danger, and had sent the Colonel up North to inquire 
personally into the disquieting rumours that were in 
the air, prior to submitting a report to the Minister for 

Totally unaware of the real state of affairs, both 
officers were thunderstruck at the news which awaited 
them. The enemy they had been sent to prepare 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


against in the improbable event of his coming had 
already landed. And the men they were privately 
instructed to snub as a lot of insane meddlers were the 
only ones who seemed in any way prepared to oppose 
his advance. That the landing was really a fact was 
amply proved both by Johnson's experience at Clon- 
curry and Hatten's letter from Hughenden ; while 
Cameron's escape further demonstrated that the 
whole of the country between the two great trunk 
lines was practically overrun by hostile cavalry. 

Fully convinced of the gravity of the situation, 
Colonel Collins decided to at once wire Sir Peter 
McLoskie, and asked Musgrave to provide him with 
a messenger to ride to the nearest station on the 
Hughenden-Longreach line. 

' It will be useless, I fear,' replied the President. 
' The line is in Zenski's hands, and you may depend 
your message will be blocked.' 

' Then you think the Count is in collusion with 
the attacking force ?' exclaimed Collins, now full of 
respect for the opinion of the man he yesterday 
looked on as a fool. 

' I am sure of it ; all inland communication is cut 
off before this. Sir Peter will hear from below 
Charleville long before you can let him know.' 

1 You are right,' interposed Major Keith ; ' we must 
do the best we can on our own responsibility.' 

' I have half an hour while the horses feed,' said 
Colonel Collins ; ' then we must push on to Hughenden. 
Meantime, I would like to have your opinion.' 

' Such as it is you are welcome to it,' replied 
Musgrave, leading the way into the committee-room. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Taking his usual seat at the head of the table, 
Musgrave began : 

' I assume that you wish to deal with the defence 
of this part of the colony ?' 

The Colonel nodded. 

' Of course our preparations form a portion only; 
still, they have their value. To throw further light on 
the subject, I propose to ask Mr. Cameron and one or 
two other gentlemen well acquainted with the country 
to join us.' 

After the men spoken of had taken their seats, the 
president resumed : 

' Our works you have already seen ; to defend them 
we have a couple of hundred men well armed and 
fairly drilled, and all provided with good horses. We 
have also four machine-guns, such as they are, and 
enough ammunition to last for a fortnight. If help 
does not arrive before, we must then cut our way out. I 
intend to send all our women folk to Hughenden to- 
day, where Hatten will meet them and send them on 
to Townsville.' 

While Musgrave was speaking, the two officers, 
both old army men, listened without comment. 

When he had ended, Colonel Collins began : 

'It appears to me that the whole of the Gulf 
country may be considered already in the hands of 
an enemy — whether Eussian or Chinese matters little, 
for in either case they are formidable. Facts are 
well known here pointing in this direction, which will 
not be readily understood in Brisbane, and they are 
so notorious that it is idle to discuss them. The only 
way to have defended Normanton and Point Parker 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


was to have sent there by train a strong force of 
infantry and artillery months ago, and also a squadron 
of gunboats by the Barrier Channel. As it is, there 
is no possibility of making a stand beyond Hughenden. 
Well, we have reached this point : what can be done 
at Hughenden ?' 

* There is the usual company of volunteers,' said 
Johnson, * commanded by a very decent fellow, a con- 
tractor by trade— no doubt he'll do his best ; and about 
two dozen men, nominally belonging to the mounted 
rifles, good enough horsemen, but seldom mustered.' 

' I have this from the official report, also that there 
are a few mounted police,' said the Colonel. ' Such 
being the small force available, is there any prospect 
of defending Hughenden? The ordinary colonial 
township is hardly capable of protracted defence. By 
felling all the trees around as abattis, manning the 
windows of houses, and barricading the streets, a 
strong force of good riflemen might cause an enemy 
serious loss and delay his advance ; but no such town 
could be saved ultimately from troops with artillery.' 

While the Colonel was speaking, the door had 
opened, and now Hatten, with a sabre-slash on his 
cheek and with his uniform torn and bloodstained, 
walked into the room. Eising to their feet, all stared 
aghast at the new-comer, 

Saluting, Hatten said in a voice hoarse with fatigue 
and rage : 

'You need not trouble about the defence of Hugh- 
enden, Colonel. The town is in the hands of the 
enemy, and every man, woman, and child who has 
not escaped has been slaughtered.' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


For a little there was silence. With the fall of 
Hughenden all hope of saving their women by flight 
was practically extinguished. 

The Colonel was the first to speak. 

* Did you succeed in communicating with the officer in 
command at Longreach, Captain Hatten ?' he asked. 

' No, sir,' said Hatten, a trifle bitterly ; ' Count 
Zenski's station-masters were in the way.' 

* You of course wired Townsville ?' 

' I did ; but got no reply. Probably the line was 
cut; however, the trains that got away before the 
town was taken will give the alarm along that line.' 

'My God !' exclaimed Cameron, full of fear for his 
daughter's safety. ' We are trapped.' 

'Not yet,' said Collins. 'Why not let all the 
women be got away South by a forced march through 
the centre of the country flanked by the trunk-lines.' 

' You forget, sir,' interposed Hatten, ' the cross-line 
between Longreach and Mayne Eiver Station. If I 
am right in my calculations, the enemy, having full 
use of the telegraph lines, will attack Longreach 
simultaneously from Hughenden and Mayne Eiver.' 

'Gentlemen,' said President Musgrave, 'as Mr. 
Cameron says, we are trapped. How do you propose 
that we should act ?' 

'Here the outlook is hopeless,' remarked Major 
Keith ; ' no serious organization is possible with such 
scanty material.' 

'We should, however, be able to reckon on help 
from the coast by railway or otherwise,' said Collins. 

' You are right, Colonel,' said Musgrave, placing a 
map on the table to illustrate his explanation. ' The 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Townsville Railway intersects a country of gold-fields 
and cattle-runs containing even yet a fine, hardy 
population ; perhaps one thousand men might be 
expected by this line. Later on a smaller force may 
be expected from the North.' 

' These could operate on the enemy's flank,' 
muttered the Colonel ; ' but I doubt if they will be 
strong enough to break through and relieve you.' 

1 Then,' said Keith, ' it comes to this — the only 
position between the lines fit to offer a real resistance 
is Fort Mallarraway.' 

' Yes,' said Collins ; ' here we must make our stand. 
Every man drawn off from the general advance of the 
enemy gives our comrades behind one chance the 
more. So, gentlemen, let us fight them while the 
powder lasts.' 

' And then blow up the Fort and cut our way 
through the yellow devils !' muttered Hatten grimly. 

' You are right, Hatten. This army of Asiatics, 
even if officered, as is probable, by Europeans, must 
be fought to the last. The idea of surrender must 
not be entertained for a moment. No terms would be 
kept by them. The officers have little power over the 
savages they lead, and all experience shows that the 
last excesses and extreme horrors of war must be 
expected from such an army. As at Hughenden, 
so everywhere : neither sex nor age will be spared.' 

As the Colonel spoke, President Musgrave glanced 
at Cameron. The old squatter's cheek was pale, but 
his lips were set. Face to face with the inevitable, he 
was once more the dauntless bushman, ready for all 
things save his child's dishonour. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Rising, Musgrave said : 

' I agree with every word spoken. Every girl and 
boy capable of firing a shot must be given the chance. 
Further, I consider it will be necessary to speak very 
plainly to the women. In spite of us, they may fall 
into the hands of these savages. Every woman 
should carry a weapon, and, besides, have poison 
upon her, so that protection from worse than death 
may be assured.' 

For a moment the old man stopped, then went on 
in a voice husky and broken : 

' If our women carry their fates in their hands, 
their husbands and brothers will fight with at least 
one weight of horror off their hearts.' 

By virtue of his official rank, Colonel Collins had 
every right to assume command of the Fort, but 
recognising that President Musgrave was the natural 
leader of its garrison, he courteously offered to assume 
a subordinate command. 

' No, Colonel,' replied Musgrave ; ' you're a soldier, 
and I'm not. I'll look after the commissariat, and 
see my fellows carry put your orders, but you must 
lead them.' 

About an hour after Hatten's arrival, fugitives from 
Hughenden began to arrive, and a little after mid-day 
the greater part of the Isis Downs troop rode in. 

Finding the station-house blown up, and dead 
Kalmucks scattered about the burning ruins, the men 
had pushed on for Fort Mallarraway. As they 
reached the outposts, Hatten and Collins met them. 

' I see you've christened your new lances,' said 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


'We came across a body of about thirty savage- 
looking devils four or five miles back/ replied Lieu- 
tenant Eyan, 'so I charged them on spec. The 
beggars showed fight, but we were too fresh for them, 
and when they tried to clear, their horses were so 
done that we ran every mother's son of them down.' 

'Did you make any prisoners?' asked Collins, 
anxious for possible information. 

' Devil a one ! the boys reckoned they had a hand 
in burning Cameron out, so we just practised on them 
with the new pig-stickers.' 

' How did they act ?' asked Hatten. 

' Didn't I tell ye, Captain, that we took no prisoners 7 
grinned Eyan. 'What better proof could ye ask of 
the success of your invention ?' 

As the day wore on, odd fugitives still kept coming 
from the North, all full of the same gruesome story. 
The coolies had joined issue with the enemy, and 
helped in the general massacre that followed Hatten' s 
departure. So far no women had come, while the 
men reported that, once clear of the town, they had 
seen no signs of the enemy. Dick understood only too 
well the absence of the former, while the fact that the 
Kalmuck cavalry had not reached Hughenden ex- 
plained the rest. 

On all sides the task of completing the works went 
on with machine-like rapidity. Naturally, the oppor- 
tunities for effective resistance to troops without heavy 
artillery were excellent. On the south side of the 
ridge on which the main buildings stood stretched a 
rocky ravine watered by a permanent spring. Pro- 
tecting the farther edge of this valley rose a palisade, 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


with a ditch on either side, while a similar defence 
ran along the northern base of the hill, the two lines 
being connected by short barricades. At the four 
corners of this parallelogram stood bastions built of 
concrete and stone, on which were mounted the four 
machine-guns, placed so that they could sweep the 
face of either front. 

As the roof of the club-house commanded the whole 
position, Colonel Collins erected a breastwork of sacks 
filled with earth inside the parapet, from behind 
which the riflemen could fire over the defenders on 
an approaching enemy. 

Under Dick's direction, the horses were picketed in 
the ravine below the enemy's line of fire, and as there 
were over four hundred tons of hay and ensilage, the 
question of fodder for them and the stock wanted for 
the commissariat caused no uneasiness. In Dick's 
mind the question really was, Could they hold the 
position long enough to use it all ? 

At four o'clock everything was prepared for the 
defence, and the men, divided into companies, were 
ready to rush to their posts the moment the signal was 

Nugent and Eyan commanded on the east and 
west barricades, while Major Keith and Johnson had 
charge of the two main palisades. Hatten retained 
his position as Adjutant, and Colonel Collins directed 
the whole defence. 

As the hot November sun, glowing like a shield of 
molten copper, sank into the sullen western haze, 
Colonel Collins and Hatten joined Cameron and his 
daughter on the roof of the club-house. All day long the 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


girl had been working with the rest loading cartridges 
and preparing bandages. This last was gruesome 
work, but, as Mrs. Musgrave said, not to be avoided 
on that account. Their defenders were about to facq 
death, and they must be prepared to bind up their 
wounds. So these women set about their task, and, 
in providing for the wants and pains of others, 
managed to put aside for the time the thought of the 
dread alternative which lay before them. 

Leaving his commanding officer to talk to Cameron, 
Dick walked to the northern parapet with Heather. 
Again they were alone ; but to-night no word of love 
fell from his lips, and yet to-night he loved her with 
an intensity before unknown even to himself. In a 
few hours he might, for all he knew, be beyond all 
reach of human passion — dead in the trench which 
stretched like a long narrow grave beneath. But 
even this grim prospect troubled him little; it was 
what must follow when the Mongols rushed over his 
and his comrades' bodies that filled his soul with 
horror for Heather's fate, and with a strange yearning 
love, such as comes to a mother watching by the 
death-bed of her first-born. 

Awed by the near presence of an unutterable 
danger, the girl spoke rather of the past than the 
present, but at last the dread reality of her peril 
forced itself upon her, and she spoke of the coming 

' Dick,' said the girl almost in a whisper, ' I want 
you to promise me something.' 

But knowing what it was, the man said never a 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


' Mr. Musgrave has told us that if the worst comes 
we must kill ourselves.' 

' It won't come to that while I live,' muttered Dick 

* I know that, you brave old fellow !' said the girl 
trustfully ; ' but even you can't do what may be 
impossible, and, Dick, I hate the thought of killing 
myself. I know it's weak, but I dread it ; and so, 
when all is lost, I want you to save me. If I must 
die, let it be by your hand.' 

' You have asked much from me, Heather,' replied 
Hatten huskily, * and for the love I bear you I have 
striven to obey; but this is more than I can do.' 

' For the sake of your love grant this last request,' 
she pleaded ; ' your aim is sure, mine may fail, and 
then God help me.' 

For a long time he stood silent, looking out into 
the blazing west ; then he said slowly : ( If I am alive 
I will do what you ask.' 

'Do you see something moving on the horizon 
line ?' exclaimed a voice, and turning, he saw Colonel 
Collins pointing towards the north. 

Taking the Colonel's field-glasses, Dick looked 
steadily out over the Downs; then he said quietly: 
' Horsemen of some sort.' Again putting the glasses 
to his eyes, he handed them to Collins with an ex- 

' There are women and children running in front 
of them !' exclaimed the Colonel. ' One has fallen ; 
now she's kneeling over her child. My God! the 
wretches are butchering her ! They've caught up 
to the rest. Ah !' and the strong man winced as 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


if beneath a blow. ' The devils are cutting them to 
pieces ! Hatten !' 

But Dick was gone ; and almost as the Colonel 
called him, his voice rose from below ordering his 
men to saddle. 

Hardly delayed by their work of murder, the 
Kalmucks galloped on towards the Fort, and now the 
watchers could catch the glitter of their lance-heads 
as they swept over the Downs, 

For a little they were puzzled by the standard 
carried by the leading trooper. Then with a thrill 
of horror they realized that it was a girl's head stuck 
on the point of his spear ! Her long hair, streaming 
in the breeze, glittered fitfully in the dying sunlight 
as the ruffian waved his lance with a gesture of 
defiance. Behind him raced a yelling horde, some 
bearing trophies such as his, others with human 
heads dangling from their stirrups. Splashed with 
blood and drunk with slaughter, on they came, their 
broad, squat features, tangled elf locks, gleaming 
eyes, and shark-like jaws, combining to make up a 
picture worthy of the hell they were sent to create. 
When about two hundred yards from the outworks 
they halted, and, uttering a yell of defiance, wheeled 

As they did so, 'Charge!' rang out, and sword in 
hand, Hatten, followed by his troop, dashed out of 
the Fort and away over the Downs. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

[28 7 ] 



At daybreak on the morning after his interview with 
Zenski, Leroy started for Charleville, drawn by an 
electric engine capable of running up to one hundred 
and fifty miles an hour, and reached Cloncurry at a 
little after six o'clock. 

Here everything was quiet. The officer command- 
ing reported that the inhabitants, taken utterly by 
surprise, had offered a sharp but futile resistance; 
that the coolie labourers had joined issue with his 
forces ; and that, as a natural consequence, the whites 
were either dead or flying before his cavalry. In the 
yards at the railway-station a troop of Kalmucks were 
hard at work handling horses, while the coolies of the 
newly-organized camp-service were slaughtering cattle 
and sheep as they were driven in by the various 

As soon as he heard his officer's report, Leroy 
ordered him to at once despatch a picked squadron, 
under the guidance of one of Zenski's overseers, to 
Isis Downs. Determined that there should be no 
mistake, the General gave his orders personally to 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


the Kalmuck officer. He was to bring back all the 
women he found there unharmed to Cloncurry, as the 
price of his own head. 

At mid-day a telegram came through from Dromeroff, 
announcing the fall of Normanton and the despatch 
of a column by rail to Cloncurry. 

A message received from Major Hoffman had 
already described the taking of Charleville. The 
Major, it seemed, had landed his force in the suburbs 
of the town before daybreak, and had occupied the 
railway-station almost without striking a blow. 

As at Cloncurry, the Asiatic population turned on 
their masters the moment they realized the state of 
affairs, and so rendered all hope of resistance vain. 

With regard to the scenes which followed, Major 
Hoffman maintained a discreet silence, merely stating 
in his telegram that those who escaped would be 
certain to spread the news, and that, in view of the 
fact that the surrounding population was a large one, 
reinforcements were urgently required. 

Fully aware of Hoffman's critical position, Leroy 
had already taxed the train-service to its utmost in 
pouring fresh troops to his support, and the following 
morning, his mind at rest as to Dromeroff s success, 
he started for Charleville himself. 

As the powerful electric motor drew him swiftly 
through the flat, lightly-timbered country which lay 
between Cloncurry and Charleville, the General 
recognised that, long as his line of communication 
was, its defence need trouble him little. 

On either side of the railroad stretched the grants 
of Zuroff and Co., uninhabited save by the company's 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


alien stockmen and station hands. And even beyond 
this radius he knew that cheap labour principally 

Queensland depended for her brawn and muscle 
on inferior races, none of which, save perhaps the 
Japanese, were prepared to fight for their masters. 
These, Leroy knew, would resist his followers to the 
last, through their fierce hatred for the Chinese. But 
as they were peaceful coolies, ignorant of war and 
totally without arms, their presence caused him no 

As Leroy entered the Warrego district, the country 
became absolutely flat, nothing deserving the name of 
even a hill breaking the sameness of the landscape. 

Here wheat began to take the place of grass, 
but as its production was wholly in the hands of the 
Japanese, the increase in population made little actual 
difference. Bound Charleville, however, and along 
the Boma-Brisbane line, a number of small pro- 
prietors made a living either by wheat or vine- 
growing. These, in most cases, worked their own 
properties, and so employed little coloured labour. 

From these men danger was to be expected, but 
even from them only after they were supplied with 
arms and provided with skilled leaders. At present 
they were no more fit to face Leroy's machine-guns 
and automatic rifles than were the gallant Matabeles 
who fell fighting for their country before the Maxims 
of the English invaders, who differed only from the 
Mongols in that they cloaked their designs and justi- 
fied their actions under the twin catch words of 
English hypocrisy, ' God and free trade.' 


Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Satisfied that communication with his base was 
secure, Leroy still recognized that his front must 
soon be attacked by all the force Queensland could 
place in the field. That the other colonies would also 
send contingents he well knew, but those would hardly 
arrive before Dromeroffs columns formed a junction 
with his own. 

In face of the increased numbers and hostile 
character of the inhabitants below Charleville, any 
advance, even if reinforced by Dromeroffs columns, 
must be made subject to the risk of having his line of 
communication with the North cut, and so, as all the 
hope of further surprise was ended, Leroy had de- 
cided to form an entrenched camp at Charleville, and 
there to await both the arrival of the enemy and his 
own supports. 

At about four in the afternoon the special ran into 
the town. As the train slowed down, Leroy could see 
from his carriage that the town had been not only 
taken, but sacked. Above the corpse-strewn ground 
and blackened, fire-gutted buildings, a heavy canopy 
of smoke hung. Still, beyond an occasional harsh 
word of command, and the measured tramp of the 
pickets, no sound of war fell on the General's ears. 
The shouts of the pursuers, and the screams and 
curses of those who fled, were alike hushed. Leaving 
the carriage, Leroy walked through the encampment. 
A believer in deeds, he was more at home amid the 
action of war than when taking part in its pomp. 
Still, knowing the value of effect on Asiatics, he 
was quite ready, as at Point Parker, to gratify his 
followers' love of parade when necessary. Now he 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


wanted to judge for himself as to results, and so he 
came absolutely unannounced. 

The encampment in which he now found himself 
presented the appearance of a collection of small forts. 
The 'Kian Ping Sin Chi,' or manual for Chinese 
soldiers, ordains that each company of one hundred 
men is to form its own encampment, which is to be 
fortified by a trench and rampart. Eecognising that 
under this system the men (who were unencumbered 
with tents) not only obtained a considerable amount 
of shelter, but also held a position secure against 
surprise, Leroy adopted it as being peculiarly well 
suited to present surroundings. The Commander-in- 
Chief found Major Hoffman personally directing the 
erection of the earthworks which were to enclose the 
camp. The Major, an intelligent-looking, middle-aged 
man who wore glasses, had been cashiered from the 
German army for duelling, and now used his skill as 

an engineer of the first class in directing the wakening 

intelligence of the officers and men of the Dragon throne. 
Apprised of the General's arrival, Hoffman walked 

to meet him. 
Dropping his hand on his officer's shoulder, Leroy 

exclaimed heartily, and so that all might hear : 

' Mon camarade, you have done well ! With such 

officers and such men, I have but to order and it is 

Gratified at such words from a man who never 

depreciated the value of his praise by 'over-supply,' 

Hoffman bowed. Then he said quietly : 

' Mem Gott, Giniral ! it is easy to obey with only an 

unarmed mob to dispose of.' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


'Our quickness alone has accounted for this/ 
replied Leroy. ' Now we must be prepared to meet 
an enemy worthy of our steel. The day of surprises 
is over ; that of action draws near.' 

' I know it, and am preparing. In a week from 
now, if properly garrisoned, these works will be im- 
pregnable, unless the attacking forces use melanite 

* Bah ! I doubt if they will have enough powder to 
supply their infantry,' sneered Leroy. ' Besides, I only 
mean to use the works in case of a repulse. We will 
fight their raw levies in the open, Major.' 

As they talked, the two men mounted a railway 
signal-box, whence they could look over the whole 
expanse of level country. Already lines of fortifica- 
tion commanding the Gharleville-Brisbane Railway, 
Zenski's line, and the artesian bore were beginning to 
rise. Belts of myall and gidyea rose here and there 
above the dead level of landscape, and along the 
course of the river barren sand-hills lifted their sun- 
scorched summits. 

' It is an ideal battle-ground on which to meet green 
troops,' muttered Leroy; 'they must fight with no 
natural features to cover their retreat or interfere with 
our advance. What possibilities for cavalry and 
horse artillery !' 

'With the Northern line in our hands, and the 
river held as I mean to hold it, our position 
is secure either as a base from which to strike or. a 
defence to cover retreat.' 

' You are right, Hoffman ; but let us not expect 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


' I do not/ replied the cautious German ; ' never- 
theless, I will be prepared for it.' 

' Again you are right : a leader must be prepared 
for everything. I leave the question of defence in your 
hands, Hoffman ; and, remember, if I trust much, I 
expect much.' 

Guarded by detachments of Mongols, gangs of 
Europeans and Japanese toiled at the earthworks ; 
for Hoffman had saved all the prisoners left after the 
first onslaught, not from motives of mercy, but in 
order that he might utilize them in the construction 
of his fortifications. Under a burning sun and kept 
to their hateful task by brutal overseers, the wounded 
and heart-broken wretches slaved on without hope, 
and impotent even to exact vengeance on the destroyers 
of their homes and loved ones. Here and there one 
weaker, or perhaps stronger, than his companions 
sank under his load, and found beneath the bayonets 
of his guards rest from his dishonoured labour. But, 
recognising the loss entailed by killing the workers 
outright, the Mongol officers soon ordered another 
punishment, and the prisoner who fell to the earth 
either from exhaustion or a desire for death, was 
flogged to his feet by their quirts of hide. Eeinforced 
by fresh batches of prisoners brought in by the 
Kalmuck scouts, and helped by crowds of friendly 
coolies, the gangs worked ceaselessly, and as the sun, 
hot and relentless, sloped westward, the hated task of 
raising up a defence against their own countrymen 
began to take definite shape. 

Keenly as he had looked, Leroy had seen no women 
among the gangs ; but, questioned on the subject, 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Hoffman admitted candidly that in the attack many 
of both sexes were butchered. Knowing the wanton 
savagery of all troops suddenly let loose, Leroy felt that 
he was powerless. His officer declared that he had 
done his best, consequently there was nothing more 
to be said. He might have thought differently had 
he known that Hoffman, going on the cold-blooded 
principle that women prisoners were undesirable, 
had issued an order that no woman was to be made 
prisoner, leaving all question of detail to his men. 

Over an after-dinner's smoke in Hoffman's quarters, 
Leroy heard his officer's report. The artesian bore 
included in the lines of defence gave a daily supply 
of three million gallons of water. In the country 
already occupied, large quantities of wheat were 
almost ripe, and would consequently soon be avail- 
able as a food supply ; while cattle and sheep were 
both easily procurable. Every horse seen had been 
secured by the small body of mounted men at his 
command, and now he was in a position to put a 
considerable force of cavalry in the field when their 
mounts were handled. Flying columns, each with a 
machine-gun attached to the engine, had been pushed 
on to occupy Thargomindah and Cunnamulla, and to 
hold the South Australian line as far as completed ; 
and detachments of sappers were busy blowing up the 
Charleville-Koma Kailway for as great a distance as 
circumstances would allow. 

' You have lost no time, Hoffman,' said Leroy. 

* The surprise was absolute, and I have made the 
most of it ; but the enemy is sure to rally, and I must 
have more cavalry to hold what I have won.' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


'You shall have them as fast as the trains can 
carry them,' replied Leroy. * As to our opponents, 
even if they have horses, they have no arms. For 
the present, nothing but guerilla operations need be 
feared from them, and before they can possibly 
organize, our columns will have concentrated.' 
' When may Dromeroff be expected ?' 
' All his infantry and artillery will come on by train 
from Longreach to Mayne Eiver, and from there along 
the main line. The cavalry will march from Long- 
reach to Charleville. They are all provided, as you 
know, with waterproof, air-tight bags, capable of hold- 
ing full equipment for horse and rider, so there need 
be no delay even if the country should be flooded.' 

These bags, which floated buoyantly with their 
loads, and could be towed after the men and horses 
to whom they belonged, allowing them to swim unen- 
cumbered, only weighed between two and three 
pounds each. General Leroy had adopted them, as 
he held that rivers should prove no hindrance to 
cavalry who might be ordered to explore land on the 
opposite side, and who, if unprepared, must suffer 
great loss in men and horses. 

' Then we may look for them in ten or twelve days ?' 
said Hoffman, running off the distance on the map. 

' Twelve at most. I leave in the morning to operate 
from Mayne Eiver in conjunction with Dromeroff. The 
attack on Longreach should take place to-morrow.' 
' There may be fighting there?' 
'Possibly. The chances are that the alarm has 
reached them, and the country on the Barcaldine- 
Bockhampton line is thickly populated. Still, what 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


can they do ? Like all the rest, they have no arms 
and little, if any, organization.' 

'Later a flanking force may be expected, how- 

' Undoubtedly !' said Leroy, as he rose. ' It will 
entail the leaving of a strong column at Longreach 
to keep our line of communication with Normanton 

Though night had fallen, the dull sounds of explo- 
sions still went on, for Hoffman was destroying all 
houses that chanced to stand outside his defence 

Lighting a fresh cigar, the engineer said : ' I must 
go, General ; my presence is necessary on the out- 
works. Do you accompany me ?' 

' I have despatches to attend to,' replied Leroy ; 
' when they are written I may follow you.' 

Left alone, the General wrote rapidly for a time ; 
then, sealing up his letters, he sat back in his chair, 
and smoked hard. Now that his work was done, 
thoughts of the woman he loved filled his brain. 
Would the Kalmuck succeed in his mission ? As a 
picture of the dangers that lay in Heather's path rose 
before him, Leroy cursed himself for not obeying 
his first impulse, and going for her himself. Now 
that he could think it out alone, he realized that all 
would be well lost so that she was saved. But despot 
as he was, holding in his hand the lives of thousands, 
he knew that even his power had its limits, and that 
one false move might break the spell with which he 
controlled the fierce spirits who fought under him ; 
and, then — well, then chaos. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


' No/ he muttered as he rose, 'if only for her sake, 
I must not now turn back ; as their General I can 
at least protect the woman I love. With my fall 
she must share the fate of others.' Beaching the 
street, Leroy walked slowly on towards the river. 
He had no wish to rejoin Hoffman ; the half-fearful, 
wholly - hateful glances of the wretched workers 
scorched him. He had looked on many such a scene 
unmoved in Asia, but then the prisoners there were 
only having meted out such treatment as they had 
often meted out to others. Here they were beings 
born under the same skies as himself; perhaps among 
them slaved men who had been schoolmates of his 
own. One old man had looked into his eyes with a 
glance of half - recognition that very afternoon as 
he struck up the arm of a Kalmuck who was cutting 
the bent, weary back with a bloody quirt. 

Now he remembered where he had seen the face ; 
it was years ago in his own father's house ; the old 
man had patted his boyish head and given him some 
trifling present. God! it was awful! He was a 
modern Attila without the old barbarian's excuse, 
the wielder of a scourge wet with the blood of men 
who had called him friend, and blasted by the 
dishonour of women who belonged to the same race 
as his own dead mother. Appalled by the recognition 
of his own baseness, Leroy moved on through the 
deserted, ruined street. Unquestioned by the pickets, 
who recognised even in the gloom the tall form of 
their leader, Leroy reached the river-bank. For a 
little he gazed into its black depths, then turned 
away with a shudder. In its foul bed he knew many 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


a woman lay who had sprang into its cold embrace 
with the bloody finger-prints of the ravisher staining 
the white freshness of her wind- tossed robe. 

Wandering aimlessly and conscience - stung, he 
found himself at the open door of a deserted house. 
Without thought or purpose, he walked into the 
ruined hall, and then, impelled by some strange force, 
pushed aside a torn mass of drapery and stepped into 
the room which opened on the farther side. 

Hanging from the ceiling, a lamp still burned, 
shedding a dim flood of light on the bed-clothes and 
broken furniture, which lay scattered over the floor 
in hopeless confusion. 

The occupants had evidently turned it down when 
going to rest; possibly someone was sick, and so they 
had feared to put it out altogether. 

Still holding a revolver in his hand, a man lay on 
the floor, his head split almost to the chin, and across 
his body a middle-aged woman reclined in a huddled 
mass. Stretched across the tumbled bed lay two 
young girls, their white limbs bruised and bloody — 
in their eyes the print of that despair which flashed 
through their scarce-opened lids into the faces of their 

One child's poor fingers still clutched fragments 
of white drapery ; from the other the spoilers' lu6tf ul 
hands had torn aside all covering, and now naked 
and dead they lay before his eyes. 

The open door of an inner room told whence they 
had come and who they had been. Less fortunate 
than those now sleeping in the ooze and drift of the 
river, this wife who had fallen asleep in her husband's 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


arms, and these two winsome maidens, perchance 
lulled to rest by dreams of love and life, had suddenly 
awakened to see husband and father cut down by 
murderous hands, and to feel a breath worse than 
that of death upon their faces. 

Now all was over, for Hoffman's brutal order had 
given them the only boon left for such as they to 
pray for. 

Silently Leroy took in the whole fearful scene, and 
then the strong man covered his face with his hands, 
and sobbed aloud in unspeakable agony. 

Ambition, the goddess of his idolatry, had brought 
him face to face with this supreme sacrifice, and 
now that he saw the offering which she demanded 
for her altar, he realized as he had never done before 
the awful price which must be paid to win and hold 
her favour. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

[ 300 ] 



When Leroy left the ruined house, his first impulse 
was to at once confront Hoffman ; but as he hurried 
towards the outworks this resolve first weakened, then 
was put aside. Knowing his soldiery, he recognized 
that what he had just seen was possible of accom- 
plishment in spite of all that his officers could do. 
He had Hoffman's assurance that he had done all in 
his power to prevent needless brutality, and he felt 
that, under the circumstances, he could take no other 
course but to believe his statement. 

Standing gazing on the murdered girls, the man's 
numbed but not yet dead nobility of character rose 
for a moment superior to the grosser passions which 
of late years had crushed it back into dim, almost 
forgotten, recesses of his being. Filled with righteous 
wrath, he was prepared to measure out punishment 
on the heads of the killers — ay, even if the sword- 
strokes which let out their miserable lives cut from 
him the allegiance of the army he led. 

But now, as he walked towards Hoffman's quarters, 
ambition once more asserted its potent sway ; he was 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


still filled with rage, pity, shame, but all these 
feelings now ran their course subject to the cold 
guidance of reason. 

Emotions such as prompted his first impulse were 
the peculiar property of women, and of men unen- 
cumbered by supreme responsibilities ; but he was a 
soldier, a leader before whose grasp vast possibilities 
lay, and so he must thrust aside this ghastly detail 
on which he had chanced as impracticable of solution 
by ordinary methods. A quarrel with Hoffman was 
not to be thought of, while the discovery of the actual 
criminals was worse than hopeless. Above all, would 
he be justified, when face to face with the enemy, in 
risking disaffection among his followers for the sake 
of such a quixotic quest ? 

Keason answered, No. And at last, falling back on 
the old ground that Heather's safety was bound up in 
his remaining absolute leader of the Mongols, Leroy 
turned into Hoffman's quarters determined to keep 
what he had seen to himself, not as a matter of 
willingness, but as an act of expediency. 

In the morning the Commander-in-Chief returned 
to Mayne Kiver junction, where everything was in 
readiness for the movement on Longreach. At 
Charleville no symptoms of serious attack as yet 
manifested themselves. During the night small 
bodies of horsemen had come into collision with the 
outposts, but beyond this the scouts reported that 
there were no signs of the enemy within touch. So 
Leroy left Hoffman to complete his works with little 
danger of opposition, at any rate for the present. 

On reaching Mayne Eiver station, the General found 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


that all communication between his advanced posts 
and Longreach was cut off. This was of little 
importance as regarded touch with. Dromeroff, for the 
line from Hughenden vid Normanton and Cloncurry 
was open. Still, it meant that the alarm had been 

A telegram from Dromeroff confirmed Leroy's fears. 
The enemy was on the alert, and had begun to blow 
up the line from Winton, 

Warned in time, Dromeroff had pushed on a 
column supported by a Maxim gun, which now held 
the road to within ten miles of Longreach. Acting 
on his own responsibility, the officer commanding at 
Mayne Eiver had despatched every available truck, 
crammed with men, to support the flying column 
which had started the night before to cover the 
Mayne Eiver road. 

The latest news from the Point informed Leroy 
that this column had succeeded in holding the railway 
as far as the Thompson Eiver, and that the bridge was 
for the present safe, the enemy being unable to face 
the fire of the Maxim guns. 

Wiring Dromeroff to push on at all hazards, and so 
divide the defending line, Leroy started for the front 
with every man he could find rolling stock to carry. 

The officer in command of the Longreach volunteer 
detachment had received a wire from Eockhampton 
on the night Leroy reached Charleville, to the effect 
that a warlike force of some sort had landed in the 
Gulf, and was advancing by rail. How far they had 
got the message did not say. It had come from 
Cooktown, where Frank McLean had arrived, and 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


only contained the meagre information he himself 
possessed. Eegarding it as a hoax, the Lieutenant 
did nothing beyond sending a reply asking for some- 
thing definite. An hour later he got his answer from 
Townsville, announcing the sacking of Hughenden, 
and almost before the instrument ceased ticking, a 
further telegram came to the effect that Charleville 
was in the hands of the invaders. Following this, the 
bewildered Lieutenant received orders from the officer 
in command at Eockhampton to get away all the 
women and children, and to destroy both lines of 
railway as far as practicable. This done, he was to 
hold the Eockhampton-Longreach railroad with all 
the men he could muster, until such time as support 
could reach him. 

Placed suddenly in a position calculated to test 
the resources even of a trained veteran, Lieutenant 
Jones held the message in one hand, while with his 
other he scratched his head. Then, after the custom 
of his countrymen, he walked into the nearest bar 
and had a drink. 

Being in private life a draper, who combined 
extreme affability (some people called it servility) 
with a nice discriminating faculty as between good 
and bad marks, Mr. Jones had thriven amazingly, 
and now called his shop an emporium, and himself a 
merchant importer. 

Left to follow his natural bent, it is probable that 
he would have rested content with aldermanic honours, 
and the privilege of adding the magic letters J.P. to 
his name. Personally, he had no cravings for blood, 
nor did he pine to lead the Longreach fencibles to the 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


muzzles of the enemy's rifles. In fact, to him 
might have been applied the remark made by a 
certain colonel to a Sydney military commission, 
when he said that it seemed to him impossible to 
combine the fierceness of the soldier with the tame- 
ness of the clerk. 

Mrs. Jones, however, thought otherwise. This 
misguided lady had conceived the idea that, if her 
husband became a lieutenant, she must of necessity 
be entitled to call herself Mrs. Lieutenant. Being 
already brigadier-general in the Jones household, this 
settled it. The local member was rather heavily 
represented in the debit column of the emporium 
ledger, and so, as a natural consequence, when the 
position became vacant, Mr. Jones was gazetted on the 
legislator's recommendations. 

During the piping days of peace things went fairly 
smoothly with Lieutenant Jones, under the watchful 
supervision of the Government drill-instructor. 

Thanks to that obliging ' non-com.' he passed his 
examination in a way which made it hard to under- 
stand why he always allowed the sergeant to whisper 
the word of command before uttering it himself. But 
as he shouted liberally, his men let this peculiarity 
trouble them little. Longreach was too hot a hole 
for the working out of abstruse problems. 

But now war had come, and it was a ' line ' in which 
the soft-goods man had had no actual experience. In 
his perplexity he naturally turned to his guide, 
philosopher, and friend, Sergeant Hegarty. That 
respected relic of the British army was, as luck would 
have it, reclining on a bench in the bar, an empty 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


pewter in his hand, the froth from its late brimming 
measure frosting his moustache, and gleaming like a 
star on the crimson expanse of his nose. 

Walking up to the instructor, Lieutenant Jones 
shook him. At first only a grunt rewarded his efforts, 
but as the shaking continued, the sergeant rose to a 
sitting position and demanded thickly what the deuce 
he wanted. Then seeing who it was, he added 
affably : ' Hullo, Jones, old cock, I don't mind if 
I do.' Passing over this familiar mode of address, 
Jones stood the necessary drink, and then led his 
'non-com.' into a private room and read him the 

Boused by the message, the old soldier sobered up 
instantly. ' Faix, Captain,' said he, ' it's the divil to 
pay, an' no pitch hot, right enough.' 

' But what am I to do ?' asked Jones feebly. 

For a moment Hegarty looked at his superior with 
pitying contempt, thpn he answered stoutly : 

' Obey orders, Captain.' 

'But how?' 

' Get the wimmin and kids away, and foight the 
divils, av course.' 

' But I never fought in my life.' 

'Bedad, then, you can't begin earlier,' grinned 
Hegarty ; ' an' by the powers it will be a hell of a 
tussle intoirely.' 

' Don't you think we'd better retire ?' 

' Is it guardin' the wimmin ye mane ?' asked 
Hegarty ; ' not in the face of these orders, Captain. 
You send a couple of engines along the lines to feel for 
the inimy ; if there ain't any to be had, bicycles 'ull 


Digitized by VjOOQIC 


be better than nothing. Manetime I'll rally up all 
the buoys/ 

Before daybreak, thanks to Hegarty's exertions, 
the alarm was spread, and every man who chanced to 
have & weapon was under arms. 

Boused to some sense of duty, Lieutenant Jones now 
lost no time in carrying out his sergeant's suggestions ; 
and as fast as was practicable every woman and child 
was removed into safety. 

Warned by the pilot engines of the near approach 
of the enemy, the townsmen began to tear up the 
line, only to be driven back by the Mongol advance 
columns. Ill armed, and totally without artillery, 
they now had to fall back across the river. 

Barricading the streets, and filling the houses with 
riflemen, Jones and Hegarty then waited the attack. 
About five o'clock in the afternoon it began. Stand- 
ing on the barricade, the old sergeant said grimly : 

' Nothin' but the Almoighty or reinforcements can 
save us, buoys ; but, tare an' ages, is it the loikes of 

us is goin' to run afore a lot of d d cabbage-growin' 

chows ! Lie down, buoys,' he added as the fire opened, 
' and blaze at 'em betwixt the chinks.' 

Not knowing when reinforcements might <Jome up, 
Leroy poured a heavy fire from his machine-guns 
into the barricades and then ordered a general 

Protected by their cover, the defenders had so far 
lost few men, and thanks to Hegarty's orders, ' to firo 
low, and at something,' the Mongols suffered heavily 
as they rushed to the assault. Still, though their 
ranks showed many a gap, the infantry never wavered. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Their General's eyes were on them, and closing each 
break in their line, on they came. 

' Give the yaller-bellies the cold steel fur it !' 
roared the sergeant, as the Mongols charged the 

Then, sword in hand, he leaped on the barricade. 
Inspired by their leader, the volunteers met thrust 
with thrust, while those who had no bayonets clubbed 
their guns and rifles, and battered at the heads of the 
Mongols, with the grim strength of despair. 

Mad with the lust of battle, Hegarty fought in the 
foremost ranks. Bayonet clashed against bayonet, and 
men trampled over each other in their fierce haste to 
slay. Then, just as the defenders began to give 
ground, a chance shot struck the Mongol leader, and 
he fell. For an instant his followers wavered, and 
seeing their indecision, Hegarty waved his sword above 
his head, and, leaping over the breastwork, yelled : 

' They're licked ; intil 'em, lads !' 

Borne back by the resistless rush, the Mongols gave 
way, and then, missing their leader's voice, broke 
and fled. 

' Back under cover, buoys,' shoiited Hegarty as the 
Maxims again opened fire. 

* Well, Captain,' muttered the sergeant, as he lay 
down beside his officer, ' how do ye feel at all ?' 

* Bight enough,' replied Jones, who had fought 
with the best, and who had sense enough not to object 
to his sergeant's assumption of command ; ' only I've 
broken my sword.' 

'More power to' ye,' whispered his companion; ' it 
must have been a grate sthroke intoirely.' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


' But it wasn't,' replied Jones irritably ; ' I just 
leant on it when I slipped, and it snapped — a weapon 
I gave six pounds for, too.' 

' That's nothing,' grinned Hegarty, ' oi've had me own 
bayonet turn rouri' from a nigger's brisket, and job me 
in the jaw, before to-day. Hullo, here they come again !' 

As he spoke, a man ran up. 

' Our powder's nearly out, Captain,' he said. 
^' What's to be done?' asked Jones helplessly. 

'Hould this barricade without it,' roared Hegarty, 
his Irish blood up. ' Eh, buoys ?' 

But the men began to murmur, and Hegarty himself 
saw its utter madness. 

' We'll give 'em one more taste of our quality while 
the powder lasts, then retrate while they're in con- 
fusion,' he suggested. 

A cheer told him they were ready, and then 
silently they waited the coming foe. 

During the afternoon a train from Barcaldihe had 
brought up the local company, and a body of picked 
civilians who had rifles of their own. These, under 
their own officer, were posted in a position to oppose 
Dromeroffs advance, and if possible prevent him from 
turning Jones's flank. Like all the rest, however, 
they -had little ammunition, and their supply had 
already been lessened in order to provide the men 
facing Leroy with a few extra rounds. 

Hearing the sound of firing from the north-west, 
Leroy determined to carry the barricade before 
Dromeroff arrived. 

Not to do so was alike repugnant to his pride and 
calculated to impair his prestige. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


, . ! 4 > 

Besides, to let this paltry force defy him would not 
only lessen the enemy's opinion o£ their opponents' 
courage, but would be certain to fill the Mongols with 
doubts as to their own invincibility. 

Biding to the front .of the re-formed companies, 

their General put himself at their head. Taking no 

.notice of their wild ^hout, he pointed to the barricade, 

and, putting his charger into a walk, advanced 

towards it, his sword resting m its scabbard. 

Keeping up a continuous fire with their automatic 
rifles, the Mongols continued their forward movement 
under a hot discharge from the breastwork and houses. 
When less than a hundred yards from the barricade^ 
Leroy's horse fell under him. Springing to his feet, 
the General drew his sword, and, giving the word in 
a voice that rang out above the roll of the musketry, 
he dashed on, followed by his troops. 

Again Hegarty leaped on the barricade, brave as a 
lion, and as before his men fought like devils. For a 
moment the bayonets met, and the whirling rifle-butts 
sank with dull thuds into shattered skulls. Making 
straight for the old sergeant, Leroy engaged him 
hand-to-hand. Never flinching, Hegarty parried his 
fierce thrust. But useless was all his valour against 
the first swordsman of his day. For a little the 
swords rang against each other, then, breaking down 
the gallant Irishman's defence, Leroy swung his sabre 
aloft like lightning, and with one mighty downstroke 
cleft him to the chin. Tossing his arms, Hegarty 
fell back on a pavement of dead and dying, and, follow- 
ing his advantage, Leroy sprang over the breastwork, 
followed by the Mongols, and the position was won. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Leaderless and broken, the defenders fought no 
more. Panic-stricken, they fled before the dripping 
bayonets of the foe, only to meet Dromeroffs victorious 
column. Outflanked, the weary survivors became a 
helpless mob, and the retreat a merciless butchery. 
At the railway-station Leroy and Dromeroff met. 

Sheathing his sword, the General grasped his 
comrade's hand. 

4 Well met, mon brave /' said he. ' Save all the 
prisoners you can ; they are too useful to break good 
bayonets on.' 

'Pardieu/ you are right, General,' exclaimed 
Dromeroff; 'but these tigers have tasted blood. 
Still, I will do what I can.' 

That night the two commanders held a consulta- 

There was much to discuss ; but both were men of 
action rather than words. Dromeroff told all that 
had happened since he parted from his chief in the 
form of a concise report, and Leroy, in a few words, 
explained his future plan of campaign. 

While discussing Fort Mallarraway, Leroy dis- 
covered that the squadron he had sent to capture 
Heather had failed in their mission. A survivor had 
been picked up at one of the stations about mid-day, 
who declared that the whole party had escaped into 
the Fort. 

Dromeroff had left orders for the cavalry to invest 
it. But now that Longreach was taken, he proposed 
attacking it in earnest with artillery. 

' It must be stormed,' admitted Leroy. ' Such a 
position in our rear is of course impracticable.' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


' It shall not exist two days from now,' remarked 
Dromeroff confidently. 

Hiding the keen interest he felt about the matter 
from his second in command, Leroy said carelessly : 

' I will see to it myself ; I want to personally 
inspect Hughenden; you have enough to do here, 
mon Colonel. Longreach must be put in a position of 
defence, and your forces pushed on for Charleville 
without an hour's delay. So leave this small nut for 
me to crack.' 

So it happened that Leroy went North, while 
Dromeroff remained at Longreach to fortify the 
position and personally superintend the advance of 
his columns. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

[ 312 ] 



An hour after Hatten left the Fort at the head of 
the ' Singers/ the watchers on the roof of the club- 
house caught sight of the returning troop. At the 
entrance to the barricade Colonel Collins met his 
Adjutant, who reported that he had come up with the 
Kalmucks after a short pursuit. Hampered by the 
unbroken state of their mounts, the murderers were 
easily dispersed, though offering a stout resistance 
when brought to bay. A few had managed to escape, 
as Hatten feared to put too big a distance between 
himself and the Fort, but with these exceptions every 
savage had been destroyed. 

During the night all remained quiet, but the 
following afternoon the scouts reported that the 
enemy's cavalry was advancing in force from the 
direction of Hughenden. A couple of hours before 
sunset they swept into view, their lance-heads and 
sabre-blades glittering above the level lands. Halting 
his main force out of range, the officer in command 
rode forward to reconnoitre. 

' Let me make a dash at the beggars, Colonel !' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


exclaimed Hatten. ' If I can get in between them 
and the main body they're ours !' 

' I can't risk it, Hatten,' replied the Colonel ; ' your 
fellows are full of fight, but they're a bit green yet. 
If they onca got going, you'd never stop them, and 
then good-bye to the whole troop.' 

While the two men were speaking, the reconnoi- 
tring party rode within a few hundred yards of the 
northern defence line, and halting, their leader began 
to inspect the works through his glasses. 

'Damn his impertinence!' muttered Collins. 
' Swing round that gun and try a pot shot, Keith.' 

But the Kalmucks' leader had not used his glasses 
for nothing, and before the gun was round, he wheeled 
his horse and galloped off, followed by his companions. 

' Don't fire !' shouted Collins ; * we can't throw 
away a shot.' 

Apparently satisfied that the position was too strong 
to attack unsupported by infantry, the cavalry com- 
mander now began to make a reconnaissance Of the 
surrounding positions. 

Whenever the enemy chanced to come within 
range, the rifles on the roof of the club-house rang 
out; but beyond these occasional reports and the 
answering yells of the Kalmucks, no sound of war 
broke the stillness of the sultry day. 

Just before sunset a column of infantry joined the 
besieging force. 

Too short of both ammunition and men to assume 
the aggressive, Collins and his officers watched the 
Mongols raising up their mimic fortresses on the 
northern point. With practised skill, each company 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


soon enclosed itself with a breastwork, from above 
which its particular standard flapped lazily in the 
evening breeze. 

On the south the cavalry hung like a cloud. 

* They mean to have us, 1 said Musgrave, glanc- 
ing uneasily at the deliberate preparations of the 

' Thank God, there isn't a field-gun among them !' 
muttered Collins, closing his glasses. 'Without 
artillery they can only starve us out.' 

'Unless it rains again within a week, they'll be 
starved out themselves,' retorted Cameron hopefully; 
4 the surface water lying about won't last a force such 
as theirs long.' 

Hatten, who was standing by, said nothing; he 
felt it would be cruel to kill the old man's hope, but 
both he and Collins well knew that the arrival of 
guns was at most only a question of hours. 

That night every man slept at his post; that is, if 
anyone within the Fort slept at all. The women 
certainly did not. Filled with the near reality of a 
peril, supreme, and yet so abhorrent that they shrank 
from discussing its awful climax, the women, when 
their work was over, sat round Mrs. Musgrave. At 
times, when Hope's lamp burns dim, and the hollow 
echoes of Death's implacable footsteps draw near, 
mankind insensibly calls upon its God. Face to face 
with a foe who will not be denied by human skill, 
man, be he ever so gross, recognising that Death 
laughs at the material, turns his eyes at last to the 

It is our dernier ressort in face of the inevitable. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


The act of a coward probably, still, but for all that 
and because of it, intensely human. For a like 
reason we draw nearer to one better than our- 
selves in moments of extreme peril. Perhaps we 
deem it is well to leave for the unknown in good 

To-night the women gathered round old Mrs. 
Musgrave, and, after the manner of their kind, prayed; 
for the old saw 'that men must work and women 
must pray' still held good, at any rate in emergencies 
such as the present. 

All women pray, if it be only to ask God to keep 
them beautiful ; but most of these gathered round the 
President's wife were honest, pure-souled girls and 
wives who asked for help as from a trusted guide 
rather than a forgotten and dimly-understood power. 
Unlike the majority of humanity, they did not regard 
God as on a par with a nauseous if potent drug, only 
to be sought after in extremes, and to be carefully 
avoided with returning health. 

Out in the darkness the men waited behind the 

Now that the infantry were up, Collins knew that 
an attack might be made at any moment, if only to 
feel the strength of the besieged. Beyond the 
defences a few lynx-eyed black boys were acting as 
scouts, so that a surprise was well-nigh impossible. 

Fearful as to the alertness of his willing but raw 
material, Hatten spent his time in going round the 
works, and at last, just about that gloom-clad hour 
when the night begins to die, he entered the north- 
west bastion. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Bound the gun the men were lying discussing the 
enemy, and emphasizing their arguments with original 
and more or less ingenious profanity. 

'Good God!' exclaimed Billy the Kid with more 
fervour than actual reverence, ' you don't mean to 
tell me that I can't belt six bloomin' chows !' 

'We shall see when ze time arrive,' replied the old 
Frenchman with whom he was arguing. 

' Look here, Frenchy, d'ye take me for a- bloomin' 
waster ?' asked Billy hotly. 

'Non, non, mon brave! it is you who take ze 
Mongol for one.' 

' So he is ' — stoutly. 

'Pardon, it is not so. Ze man you vill have to 
fight is not vat you would call ze common chow. K 
led as these are by European officers, he's nomber, 
he's obedience to authority, and he's personal bravery 
must make him almost irrezestible.' 

' How the blazes do you know ?' 

' I have met ze gentleman years back in Tonquin,' 
replied the old soldier quietly, ' bayonet to bayonet. 
Doubtless, mon beau Beeley, you will soon likewise 
be able to joodge for yourself.' 

'I ain't much up in these 'ere jobbers,' growled 
Billy; 'but I'll back myself to shoot mosquitoes on 
the wing agin any blarsted chinkie in the push.' 

' Go on; what yer given' us?' sneered a Hughend^en 

' Send I might live,' retorted Billy, ' and I'd take 
these Johns with the bare " mud-scratchers " — one 
down next come on. Gor blow me ! ain't they got 
chests like drinks o' water !' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


' I was talkin' about your shootinV drawled the 
man who had last spoken. 

' Eight ; and you'll have the straight wire about it, 
too/ said Billy. 'A couple of months ago, on the 
Downs, I went out to get a duck for the missus. 
Well, on the t'other side of Scottie's Lagoon, I sees 
a dozen roosting in a line along a coolibah log. 
Slipping a ball in, I says to myself, " Blowed if I 
don't knock the heads off the lot !" Down I drops ; 
hut just as I pulls the blarsted trigger, a blarsted 
branch falls plump across the barrel. " Blarst it !" 
says I. But so help me never, when the smoke clears 
I sees every bloomin' duck still there a-flapping and 
quacking like mad.' 

' Get on!' 

' As true as I live !' protested Billy; ' I runs across, 
and what d'ye think I finds ?' 

' That you'd been havin' a dream.' 

4 No bloomin' fear ! I finds the ball had hit the log 
just below the ducks' feet, and blow me if they hadn't 
all fallen into the split it made ! Then it closed and 
caught 'em, so I rings their necks and fetches the 
lot home. Didn't I, Capten ?' 

Billy never got Hatten's answer, for even as the 
words were on his lips, a rifle-shot rang out, and 
almost simultaneously the bugles sounded, and broad 
streams of light shot from the summit of the club- 
house far into the night. 

As th,e electric flashes fell upon them, the Mongols • 
sent up a deafening yell. But held in hand by their 
leaders, the men behind the defences remained silent. 

On the northern front the attacking infantry now 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


poured in a terrific fire from their automatic rifles, all 
the more appalling in that no report drowned the 
fierce hail of bullets which beat against the logs. 

' Wait for them, men !' shouted Keith ; 'this devil's 
tattoo won't hurt much.' 

While the infantry were advancing, the cavalry 
now dismounted, and, armed with their carbines, 
made -a, determined attack on the southern barricade. 

Pursuing similar tactics to Keith, Johnson let them 
blaze away and waited. Meantime the men on the 
parapet of the club-house lay behind the bags glanc- 
ing along their barrels. 

' Surely they are within range, Colonel ?' exclaimed 

'Possibly; but I want every shot to tell/ replied 
the Colonel. 

Emboldened by the silence, the Mongols now began 
to close for their final rush. Then the Colonel said 
sharply, ' Now, men, let every bullet mean a yellow 
devil ! Fire !' 

In an instant the roof of the club-house was en- 
veloped in smoke, out of which rushed red tongues 
of flame. 

Sword in hand, the Mongol officers led. on their men, 
who, galled by the riflemen's fire, now rushed on the 
barricades with yells of defiance and rage. 

Directing the full force of his attack on the northern 
front, the Mongol commander made a furious demon- 
stration against the gate. When the Mongols were 
less than a hundred yards from the outer ditch, the 
men behind the palisades opened fire. Met at point- 
blank range, the enemy fell in scores ; but, splendidly 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


led, they still came on, thinned by each successive 
discharge, but undaunted. At last they reached the 
ditch and began, in face of the defenders, to throw their 
storming bridges across at points where the fire was 
slackest. But now the machine-guns opened fire, and 
raked both in front and on either flank by foes they 
could not see, the stormers fell back on their supports. 

Knowing that the Commander-in-Chief would be 
with him on the following morning, the officer in 
charge of the besiegers was keenly anxious to carry 
the Fort before his arrival. The repulse first sus- 
tained showed him that this was no easy matter, and 
that, to be successful, he must be prepared to sacrifice 
his men without stint. This, however, cost him no 
uneasiness. Accustomed to Asiatic warfare, the 
question of human life never entered into his calcula- 
tions, save as a means to an end. 

His soldiers' present use was to win him the favour 
of Leroy, by carrying the position which delayed the 
advance, so he decided to again attempt it without 
regard to the certain and necessary loss which must 

Inside the Fort a feeling of exultation prevailed. 
The dreaded enemy had been hurled back almost with- 
out the loss of a man, and now the one desire of the 
defenders was to sally out and complete his rout. In 
spite of what their officers had said, the Mongols 
were only Chinamen — mongrels like all their country- 
men. At least, so the majority of the men behind the 
barricades thought, and said, flushed with the excite- 
ment of their first and, as it happened, successful 
4 brush ' with an actual enemy. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Permeated with the sickening and indiscriminate 
adulation which England had poured over all things 
colonial during the past ten years, these undisciplined 
warriors most illogically deemed themselves invincible. 
Had not imperial commandants and successive 
governors told them so ? And now actual experience 
came to prove it. 

Crowding round their officers, the men demanded to 
be led against the enemy. 

Recognising that he was in some sort to blame for 
this insanity, Colonel Collins hesitated. But, not 
handicapped by the memory of past parade orations, 
Dick Hatten answered them. 

'Don't be a lot of damned fools!' said he. 'You 
fight well enough behind cover. Stop there !' 
' . As he spoke, the rifles of the scouts again rang out. 

' To your posts, men !' shouted Collins. ' Fire low 
and keep your heads !' 

Taking advantage of every inequality in the ground, 
the Mongol stormers again crept on through the gloom ; 
but again the quick-eyed blacks sighted the advancing 
columns, and firing their rifles, the scouts retired 
under the cover of the palisades. 

As the first report fell on his ear, Musgrave sprang 
to the electric battery and connected the current. 
Then, as the whole wild scene became lit up, he looked 
over the parapet. 

The Fort itself was enveloped in a cordon of smoke, 
out of which incessant tongues of flame rushed, 
followed by that dread crackling chorus which belongs 
peculiarly to Bush fires and volleys of musketry. 

Beyond the circle of smoke, but ever drawing 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


nearer, crept hundreds of shadowy forms. He could 
see the light glint on their rifle-barrels as they brought 
them to the shoulder, yet neither smoke nor sound 
came forth from the phantom tubes. Still beneath 
him he could see an occasional man sink forward, or 
spring upwards, in his death-agony, and about his 
ears the ping of passing bullets told the watcher that 
death lurked in the voiceless rifles of the foe. Now 
little space remained between the smoke-cloud and 
the enemy. With his night-glasses he could catch 
the wolfish glare in the stormers' eyes, as, treading 
over their dead companions, they rushed on the points 
of the flame-tongues. 

A gleam of sword-blades, a red light on the 
bayonets, a wild mingling of shots and fierce, hoarse 
yells, then a cloud of smoke, and Musgrave saw 
nothing more. 

Mad with the riot of the battle, the old man 
grasped his sword, and rushed down the stairway 
and on to the barricades. 

This time the stormers reached the palisades. 
Eeckless as to death, and led by men whose trade 
was war, fatalism and the lust of plunder rendered 
them fearless as tigers who have tasted blood. 
Standing on the narrow space before the hanging 
logs, they thrust their bayonets between them, and 
tore fiercely with their fingers at the swaying timber. 

Meeting thrust with thrust, the defenders hurled 
back each yellow face into the already corpse-strewn 
ditch. As before, the brunt of the attack fell on the 
northern point. But this time the Mongol leader, 
leaving the southern line almost unassaulted, con- 


Digitized by VjOOQIC 


centrated every available man in an attack on the 
four bastions. This he was able to do under com- 
parative cover from the nature of the ground. 

Forced to defend their guns, the men in the bastions 
were unable to keep up a constant fire across the 
northern face, and taking advantage of this, the 
Mongols kept up a desperate assault on Major Keith's 
line of defence. 

Suddenly above the tumult, a blare of trumpets 
rang out, and like magic the Mongols melted away. 

Blackened with smoke, and with their clothes torn 
with bayonet-thrusts and stained with sweat and 
blood, the defenders watched the retiring enemy in 
grim silence. No word of following them fell from 
the firmset lips ; each man had realized, in the 
minutes just past, that Death fought in the forefront 
of the foe, and that now they must wait for him — if 
needs be, yield to him — on the ground where they 
stood. In the ditch at their feet, and on the trampled 
grass beyond, lay a ghastly company, some with arms 
rigidly in air, others with legs drawn and fixed, and 
many with trunks horribly distorted by the final 
muscular action at the last moment of life. There 
lay Major Keith, and not far away President Mus- 
grave knelt, semi-erect, one knee against a bank of 
earth, his arm laid on the low breastwork in front. 
In the hollow of his other hand lay a rifle. 

Kneeling down, Hatten put his hand over Keitti'a 
heart. ' Gone, poor chap !' he muttered. Then, 
rising, he laid his hand on Musgrave's shoulder. 
' The Colonel wants you, sir,' he said. Then, as the 
President did not move, he leant forward, and looked 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


into his face. A dark mark in the centre of the 
forehead, from which an ugly discoloured substance 
oozed, made answer for the old man. 'My God!' 
exclaimed Dick. Turning to some men who were 
removing the wounded, their Adjutant ordered them 
to place the body of the father of Fort Mallarraway 
in one of the cottages, and then hurried away to the 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

324 ] 



As Hatten passed the dining-hall, now converted into 
a hospital, he met Heather. 

Through the half-opened door he could heat an 
occasional stifled groan. 

Looking into the girl's face, he saw reflected there 
the manifold pains of others, and hesitated for a 
moment before he could bring himself to entrust her 
with one more burden. Quick to notice that some- 
thing was amiss, she said anxiously, * What's wrong, 
Dick ?' Then, as he remained silent, ' Is it anything 
I can help you in ?' 

'Yes,' he replied, almost brusquely. 'Mr. Mus- 
grave is dead, Heather, and I want you to tell his 

At his words the girl's cheeks paled, and she half 
lifted her hand, as though to ward off some unseen 
possibility. Then she said, 'I will tell her, Dick. 
Good-bye;' and, passing into the room, she was 

On the parapet Hatten found Collins, Cameron, 
and the other officers. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


The Colonel was looking in the direction of the 
Mongol camp. 

Turning to Hatten, he asked : 

* What do you make out of this last move T 

i The arrival of field-guns/ muttered the Adjutant, 
as he dropped his glasses. 

* Then it's all over with us,' groaned Cameron, 
The others made no reply, for all felt that practi- 
cally this was what it amounted to. 

The arrival of the guns had been most opportune 
for the Mongol commander. Little as he cared for 
waste of life, he was just beginning to realize that 
possibly it would be all in vain so far as taking the 
Fort was concerned, and he well knew that Leroy 
would not forgive failure under such circumstances. 
With the coming up of the artillery, a way was 
opened out of his dilemma, and now he was busy 
getting the guns in position to batter a breach in the 
northern defence line. This accomplished, he had 
no fear for the result, as, with the reinforcements 
which had accompanied the siege-train, he felt the 
assault must prove successful. For the defenders the 
outlook was utterly hopeless. With their numbers 
thinned, and hardly enough ammunition to last for 
two more days, the position was desperate even before 
the arrival of the artillery. Now it was simply 
untenable. Melenite bombs would sweep their feeble 
defences away like straw, and without these aids 
resistance was not to be thought of seriously. To 
reckon on relief from the coast they all recognized 
was hopeless. To stay where they were meant certain 
death, and ta attempt to cut their way out held few 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


possibilities of escape, in a country overrun by a 
watchful enemy, even if they succeeded in breaking 
through the besiegers' lines. 

Still, this last alternative offered a chance of escape, 
feeble as it was, and so Colonel Collins decided to 
take it. 

'Hatten,' said he, as the others by their silence 
signified their acquiescence, 'I leave all matters of 
detail in your hands. You will collect all the ammu- 
nition and arms not actually wanted, and store them 
in the cellars under us. Let all the horses be 
saddled, and when the enemy again opens fire, place 
the women in the centre of your squadron, and slip 
out between the two eastern bastions. Before you 
make your dash, the guns will open a passage ; after 
that your swords must keep it clear.' 

4 And you, sir ?' 

* I will hold the position long enough to give yoti a 
start ; then blow up the Fort, and do my best to 

For a moment Hatten hesitated. His first impulse 
had been to accept a charge which he knew would 
include Heather. But now all his soldier's instincts 
urged him to stay and guard the rear. 

' Let me remain with you, Colonel,' he said firmly ; 
' and put Lieutenant Johnson in my place : he knows 
the country better than I do.' 

; ' As you wish, Hatten,' answered Collins ; then, 
turning to Johnson : ' You will take command of the 
squadron. Once clear of the enemy, your Bush craft 
will be your best protection. DoH't trouble about the 
rest of us. Your orders are to save the women if 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


possible ; if not, to shoot them rather than let them 
fall into the hands of the enemy.' 

As Johnson turned away, Hatten whispered some- 
thing to the Colonel. 

Nodding, Collins called after the Lieutenant : 

' Mr. Cameron will accompany you.' 

During this discussion and arrangement of a plan, 
the old squatter had sat on one of the sand-bags, 
taking neither part nor interest in what was going on 
around him. Musgrave's death had stunned him. 
The other men, much as they regretted the loss of the 
President, had too much anxiety on their shoulders 
for the living to brood over those past human help. 
But to Cameron this passing away of a man old as 
himself was fraught with a dour significance. Old 
men see the reaper nearing themselves with vivid 
distinctness through the eyes of their dead com- 
panions, no matter how they have died. 

Housed by the Colonel's mention of his name, 
Cameron looked up. Then, following out his late 
train of thought, he asked : 

' What are you going to do with poor old Bob ?' 

' Put him over the magazine,' replied Collins grimly. 

' It's the spot he'd have picked,' muttered Cameron, 
rising and walking to the stairway. * Don't forget to 
send his body after his leal old soul.' 

Left alone on the roof of the club-house, Colonel 
Collins again brought his glasses to bear on the 

But now, though the dawn had given place to 
morning, the gloom had grown so intense that all 
distant objects were little more than blurs on the 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


surface of the Downs. Above the northern horizon a 
bank of clouds, flushed with pale-red, rose swiftly in 
dull, leaden masses through the dense impervious 
haze which now enwrapped the new-born sun with 
sable coverings. 

Near where the Colonel stood, the flag hung 
motionless about its staff. But skyward a swift 
strong current carried the storm-clouds up from their 
northern fastnesses. Behind the guns he could see 
the Mongols swarming like ants. Turning, he glanced 
into the ravine. All the horses were saddled. 

'If the artillery only brings it down, it's all in 
Johnson's favour,' muttered the Colonel, as he sig- 
nalled his bugler to sound the alarm. ' God send it 
falls in bucketfuls !' 

Below everything was ready. Helped by Nugent, 
Hatten had packed all the explosives so that their full 
effect would be felt. Johnson and Byan had seen to 
the horses. 

Warned to prepare for flight, the women had retired 
to their rooms. 

'We must do our best to help the men who are 
trying to save us,' said Heather. ' Let us take off 
our dresses and put on trousers and coats. If *we 
ride like the rest, we will have a better chance in 
every way.' 

Suitable as the suggestion was, it was not allowed 
to pass unchallenged. With some women habit is 
strong as death, prudery more deeply ingrained than 
love of life. 

4 Horrible !' gasped one Hughenden matron, cele-. 
brated for the generous display of her charms at balls 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


and dinner-parties. ' I would sooner die than let a 
man see me in trousers.' 

'My troubles, whether they see me in pants or 
stockin's,' snorted old Margaret, ' but, bedad, if we've 
got to roide straddle-legs, git me a pair of throusers, 
Miss Heather, or bad cess to it; it's rheumatics o'ill be 
catchin' in me legs.' 

While Margaret was speaking, a knock sounded at 
the door. Opening it, Heather saw Hatten standing 
in the passage. 

' Are you ready?' he asked. 

' No, Dick.' Then the girl said : ' Can you lend 
me a pair of trousers and a coat ?' 

'Who for?' he asked. 

' For myself,' she answered. 

At another time he might have laughed, but now 
he merely answered, * Yes,' and, running off to his 
room, got them, and handed them to her. 

'I thought I would be less trouble to you with 
these on,' she said simply as she took them. 

Then it all flashed on him. 

4 You've cut the knot about saddles,' he said in a 
tone of relief; ' are the rest going to do the same ?' 

' Some of them don't like to.' 

' Eubbish !' exclaimed Dick, indignant to think 
that any woman would not follow Heather's lead. 
4 Tell them the orders are that every woman who is not 
prepared to do what you have done will be left behind. 
We can't risk lives for the sake of a lot of prudes.' 

Then, as she turned to re-enter the room, he took 
her hand. 

' Good-bye,' he said, in low, almost expressionless, 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


tones ; it is only the actor who can afford to let his 
heart speak in the inflection of his voice. 

' But I will see you again ?' she said, looking into 
his face, ' You are to guard us ?' 

'No,' he interposed; 'Johnson commands the 

As he spoke the bugles rang out. 

Dropping his sabre, he leant towards her. Striking 
the floor, the scabbard filled the lofty passage with 
hollow echoes. 

' Twice I have asked for what you cannot give, 
girl !' he whispered with fierce yearning. * Now let 
me hold you in my arms, kiss you on your lips, and I 
will weary you no more.' 

For an instant he stood with outstretched arms. 
Then she stepped forward, and, winding his strong 
arms about her, he kissed her full on her trembling 
mouth. Holding her from him, he looked once into 
her eyes, and then, snatching up his sword, rushed 
down the corridor. 

Determined, now that the guns had come, to carry 
the Fort before his General's arrival, the Mongol 
leader, in less than an hour after the last attack, 
again opened fire. 

With the firing of the first gun, Collins ordered 
the women and children to be placed on the horses. 

' Where's Mrs. Musgrave ?' exclaimed Johnson, as 
he put his charges in the centre of the squadron. 

' Mother was with us when we left the house,' said 
one of her daughters, hastening to dismount. 

' Stay where you are, my child,' said Cameron ; * I 
know where your mother is.' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Filled with foreboding, the two girls slipped off 
their horses and ran after the old man. 

Pushing open the door oi tlae room in which 
Collins— true to his promise — had placed the father 
of Port Mallarraway, the squatter stepped in. 

On a stretcher Musgrave Jay, atill distorted as 
when Hatten had found him, but now in place of a 
rifle his wife rested on his outstretched arm. 

On the table stood a glass, some glittering particles 
still clinging to its side. 

; Lifting his hat, Cameron said reverently, * She has 
obeyed his last commands.' 

Then raising the girls, who had thrown themselves 
on their knees beside the dead, he led them out and 
back to where the rest of the sad company waited. . 
, Pierce gusts of wind now swept over the level 
Downs, and angry peals rang out of the troubled 
sky, as if in answer to the dull booming of the 
Mongol artillery. 

Unable to judge of what was behind the defences 
by reason of the dead level of the surrounding 
country, the Mongol chief was ignorant of the fact 
that the besieged had horses within their barricades. 
So to farther extend his line of attack, he still used 
his cavalry as infantry. Massing his stormers be- 
hind the guns, he opened fire with ball on the 
northern defence line. . 

Spreading his men as much as possible, Hatten 
ordered them to lie in the trench. At first it seemed 
as though the palisade would prove equal to the 
occasion. An odd post splintered or broke, but as 
a rule the swinging timber glanced aside and let the 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


balls rush through. With the bastions it was differ- 
ent; already the flying splinters of stone told that 
the enemy had got the range of the north-western 

' I can't wait any longer,' muttered Collins ; ' if 
they disable the other gun, half Johnson's chance is 

Leaning over the parapet, he gave the signal to his 
waiting lieutenant, and, forming his men into the 
shape of a wedge, Ted led them down the ravine. 

As the squadron neared the barricade, a blinding 
flash lit up each rock-bound crevice, and, splitting 
asunder, the storm-cloud hurled sheets of water and 
fragments of ice in the faces of the Mongols. 

Bushing into the depression below the barricade, 
the dismounted Kalmucks crowded for shelter, and, 
swarming round their guns, the men in the bastions 
fired into the huddled masses at point-blank range. 

Caught between showers of hail and bullets, the 
besiegers broke and fled. 

'Down with the gates !' yelled Johnson, and, sword 
in hand, he dashed out of the Fort and up the end of 
the ravine, followed by his squadron. 

Away from their chargers and blinded with the 
rain, the Kalmucks who attempted to bar the way 
fell, trampled under the flying hoofs, and before the 
men who had charge of the horses were able to force 
them up against the storm, Johnson was through the 
lines and out of range of the enemy's carbines. 

Side by side, Heather and Cameron had shot through 
the barricade ; but in the wild gallop up the rock- 
shod ravine, with shots pinging past their ears, and 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


lumps of ice falling about their heads, father and 
daughter lost sight of each other. Just as he mounted 
the crest of the gully, Heather's hors£, struck by a 
chance bullet, staggered on his knees and fell. 

Eushing up to the prostrate rider, a Kalmuck officer 
lifted his sword. Then, as he hesitated for a spot at 
which to strike, a rush of wind carried away Heather's 
hat, and, caught in the hurricane, a cloud of golden 
hair drifted over the sodden ground at his feet. 

Almost as Collins gave the signal for Johnson to 
make his rush, the enemy, quick to notice the little 
effect produced by their fire on the palisade, began to 
shell it with melenite bombs. 

* It's all over, Hatten !' shouted Collins above the 
din of the storm. * Call off the men, and let us make 
a dash for it !' 

Shrouded by the rain, the defenders left their posts 
unobserved, and mounted the horses held for them in 
the ravine. 

As they did, the bombs began to hurtle overhead, 
and one, striking the palisade, tore a gap in its 
timber. Through the breach they could see . the 
Mongols rushing on to the assault, hear their yells 
rising shrill above the wind. 

Eunning into the club-house, Hatten lit the fuse, 
then, jumping on Io's back, he wheeled her down the 

Eallied by their leaders, the Kalmucks had now 
closed in on either side, and as Dick and his comrades 
charged through the breastwork, the enemy poured 
their carbines into their packed ranks. With a 
gurgling cry Collins fell from his horse. On either 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


flank fierce eyes gleamed from masses of wind- tossed 
hair. In front the lightning played on waving lance- 
heads and shortened sword-blades. Then, up from 
the * valley of the shadow of death ' rang the word 
'Forward!' and standing in his stirrups, Hatten 
buried himself in the midst of the Kalmuck horde. 

Clear of the melee, the officer who had found 
Heather dropped his sword-blade, and stooped over 
her. As his eyes fell on the girl's face, an evil smile 
played about his mouth, and lifting her in his arms, 
he hurried towards a clump of low scrub that rose 
above some rocks. As he neared the cover, a roar 
deeper than the boom of artillery, more awe-com- 
pelling than the thunder of heaven itself, shook the 
ground over which he hurried. Startled, he dropped 
his burden, and wheeled about to see the club-house 
lifted from its foundations and hurled in a thousand 
fragments through the air. 

Boused from her stupor by the explosion, Heather 
half rose ; then, as she saw the Kalmuck's wolfish eyes 
looking down on her, she staggered to her feet and 
fled. With a curse the cavalryman sprang after her. 

Galloping towards the fight, an officer heard the 
womanlike cry, and wheeling his horse, rode towards 
the strange figure who had given utterance to it. 

As he rode up, the Kalmuck again caught his prize 
in his arms. 

' Halt !' exclaimed the horseman sternly. 

Saluting, the Kalmuck answered humbly : 

' A man who was attempting to escape, sire.' 

* Liar !' fiercely retorted Leroy, for it was the 
Mongol General. * It is a woman !' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


* I was saving her,' muttered the trembling slave. 

'Liar again!' thundered his chief. 'You have 
deserted your post to destroy her !' 

'Mercy !' pleaded the Kalmuck. 

' You shall have it,' said the General grimly. ' The 
knout is the punishment for cowards, but I will blow 
your brains out.' 

As he spoke, he drew his revolver and fired, and 
falling forward, the Kalmuck dropped at his feet. 

Unable to understand a word of what was said, 
Heather, now that her senses were coming back, felt 
that her rescuer's voice was strangely full of the 
cadences of the past. But with the shot conscious- 
ness again left her, and she sank to the ground 
beside the dead man. 

Kneeling, Leroy rested the golden head on his knee, 
and began to open her collar. As he did, the beauty 
of the face enchained him. Opening her eyes, Heather 
looked up into his, and then in a moment he knew her. 

Dressed as a boy, and changed from a child to a 
woman, she was still the twin soul for whom he had 
dyed his hands in blood and forfeited all hope of 
Heaven's forgiveness. 

'Heather!' he exclaimed, holding her face close to 

Then the look of puzzled wonder rolled away out of 
her eyes, and she whispered, nestling to him with the 
trustfulness of a child : 

' Philip, you have come back at last. Oh, my 
darling ! I have waited for you so long — so long !' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 




Through Orloffs veins the blood surged for a 
moment, then rushed back to his heart, while his 
hands trembled, not with the enervating ecstasy of 
desire, but because his whole body had become sud- 
denly charged with subtle magnetic thrills. 

Rising from beneath the grosser materialism which 
had crushed down his other and better self for years, 
the divine spirit of his one pure passion now came 
forth to greet its long-lost alter ego. 

As he looked into the girl's eyes, he became con- 
scious of something gone from him only to be replaced 
by a purer quantity newly come, and, bending his 
head, Philip Orloff placed his lips reverently on those 
of the woman who lay in his arms. 

Over the pallid whiteness of Heather's face warm- 
tinted shadows waxed and waned. Then, in the 
supreme moment when the current of love's twin 
forces became united by actual contact, both became 
conscious of a coming together of vital essences. For 
as in chemistry the particles of two bodies, impelled 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


by the irresistible law of affinity, unite and blend, so 
is it in the human organism. 

Women fair as Heather had moved with alluring 
reluctance across the stage of Philip OrlofFs life. A 
man in many things more noble than he had sued 
with passionate devotion for Heather's love. But 
wanting each other, these two could be satisfied with 
nothing less. 

Impelled by an attraction founded on the inner- 
most chemical properties of their own beings, and 
proceeding from the same sources as the organic 
processes of life itself, this man and woman, formed 
by nature for the reproduction of life in its highest 
form, could no more unite with any foreign entity 
than nitrogen can with platinum — could no more 
remain apart now that circumstances had brought 
them together than oxygen and potassium, 

Goethe expresses in a single word this essence 
of love. It is Wahlvermandtschaft, or elective 

But of all this Philip Orloff was ignorant. He 
knew he loved Heather ; her own words proved that 
she reciprocated his passion. Still, the question in 
his mind was, Will she be prepared, when she knows 
all, to hold fast not only to Philip Orloff, but also to 
his dual self, General Leroy, the leader of a host of 
demons, from which he, in the guise of his original 
being, has just rescued her ? 

In Heather's mind a sense of restored possession 
dominated all else. Accustomed to view the coming 
of her hero from one standpoint only, she for the 
moment utterly failed to connect her lover with his 


Digitized by VjOOQIC 


surroundings. The words he had spoken to the 
Kalmuck were unintelligible to her, and the latter's 
death, if it told anything, pointed to the fact that 
Orloff came in the character not only of a saviour, but 
also of an avenger. 

Kising, Orloff lifted her to her feet. The Fort was 
now a mass of ruins, showing dimly out of the drifting 
clouds of smoke, while in the distance an occasional 
rifle-shot woke dull echoes. Through the riven 
palisades masses of Mongols poured, intent on 
plunder, but where the two stood all was silent. 
Eealizing the nearness of their peril, the girl caught 
OrlofFs arm. 

' Let us go, Philip/ said she ; * these wretches will 
see us, and ' — glancing at the dead Kalmuck — ' then 
even you will be powerless.' 

' There ia nothing to fear,' he began, and stopped. 
Dare he reveal himself ? Not yet, he decided. ' You 
are right, darling,' he continued, in the tones of a 
man doubtful of his words. ' You are knocked up, so 
I will, put you on my horse, and we will get out of 
their sight.' 

Lifting her on to the back of the charger, who had 
waited with trained intelligence beside his master, 
Orloff handed Heather the reins, and, pointing to a 
clump of scrub that rose about a hundred yards from 
where they stood, he walked on beside his horse. As 
they moved towards the cover neither spoke. In 
moments of extreme peril thought takes the place of 
speech. The fact that he was beside her was enough 
for Heather — at least for the present — while the 
falseness of his position made Orloff only too glad to 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


avoid by silence the risk of an explanation which, 
inevitable as it was, he still feared to anticipate. As 
they rounded the corner of the scrub-belt, Orloff' s 
quick eye fell on the body of a man lying under the 
meagre shadow. Taking hold of the bridle, he sought 
to turn his charger's head, but Heather had already 
seen ; and now, filled with apprehensions which each 
moment helped to develop into certainties, she slipped 
off her horse and ran towards the body. 

Boused by her cry of recognition, the wounded man 
rolled over on his back. 

Already his eyes were dim, and sweat-drops, which 
gather when Death has his grip on men of strong 
vitality, hung about his forehead. 

* Father !' cried the girl, dropping on her knees ; 
* you are not wounded, you are only tired ! Philip, 
help me to lift him, and he can ride in place of me.' 

Orloff knew she was deceiving herself ; still, he bent 
down and placed his arm under Cameron's head. 

' I can't see you, dearie,' gasped the old man ; * but 
it's your voice. Who is with you, child T 

While he was speaking, Orloff drew a flask from his 
sabretache, and, raising the dying man, poured a 
mouthful of brandy down his throat. 

4 It's Philip — Philip Orloff, father,' answered 
Heather. * Now will you come with us ?' 

Eevived by the spirit, Cameron stared at the man 
who knelt beside him. Glazed though his vision had 
become, he saw that he was in uniform of some kind. 
Unable to distinguish it, Cameron, like his daughter, 
at once concluded that reinforcements irom the South 
bad arrived. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Deceived by her father's manner, Heather began to 
feel some real hope. 

' Philip has saved me, father,' she said caressingly. 
' Let us get you away before these murderers come 

'I am past all that, darling/ whispered Cameron 
huskily. Then, with sudden energy : * Go before the 
savages murder you ; before they can reach me I will 
be past even their vengeance !' 

Heedless of his commands, the girl knelt beside 
him, kissing his hot, clammy hands, and murmuring 
passionate words of love. 

On the other side, Orloff, conscience-stung, still 
held up the wounded man's head, and, in response to 
the latter's gesture, again put the flask to the old 
man's lips. 

Then Cameron, rousing himself with a supreme 
effort of will, said : 

* Philip Orloff, I am going to give a charge into 
your hands. Heather has always loved you. You have 

killed a man, and so But let that pass, I have 

no time for explanation. The man I would have 
asked to guard her is gone — dead, for all I know. 
You have saved my darling's life. Promise me before 
I die that you will be to her, in the terrible days which 
lie before you both, what I would have tried to be.' 

Laying his hand on Heather's shoulder, Orloff was 
silent for a moment, then he began in a broken voice: 

* Sir, I swear.' 

' I am content/ gasped the old man; ' your word is 
enough. Kiss me, child — I am going !' 
Even as her mouth rested on his own, Cameron's 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


eyes grew fixed, one long shiver shook his limbs, a 
crimson tide stained Heather's lips, and her father 
was dead. 

With one common impulse both rose, and stood 
looking down on the dead man. 

Then, walking to her side, Orloff took the girl in 
his arms. Besting her head on his shoulder with a 
gesture alike of sorrow for the father she had lost and 
trust in the love she had found, Heather sobbed with 
all the bitterness of one who has lost something which 
can never be exactly replaced, no matter how long the 
loser may search for its counterpart. 

Filled with a strange dull wonder with all things, 
Orloff stared into the face of the man who had un- 
wittingly handed the thing he loved best oji earth 
into the keeping of his slayer's leader. 

Suddenly a sound of galloping hoofs recalled both 
to a sense of their surroundings. Turning her head, 
Heather saw a troop of Kalmucks racing towards 
them. With a gesture of fear she clung to Orloff. 
Then, with that supreme self-abnegation which makes 
certain women divine, she moved in front of both her 
father and her lover. 

With a yell of triumph the Kalmucks rode straight 
at the pair. 

* We are lost, Philip !' whispered Heather. 

*I may be, darling/ he answered with terrible 
intenseness. Then, stepping past her, he held up 
his hand with an imperious gesture. 

Without waiting for the word, the troop pulled their 
horses on their haunches, and, jumping from his 
reeking charger, their leader came towards Orloff. . 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Saluting, he said : ' Pardon, Monsieur le General.' 

Struck by the effect of Philip's presence, and now 
able to understand the officer's words, Heather turned 
to her lover a face full of puzzled wonder not un- 
mixed with doubt. 

Face to face with the inevitable, Orloff determined 
to meet it alone. 

' You will ride round to the camp,' said he, c and 
bring back a horse for this lady, also a stretcher. 
AUons /' 

Saluting, the officer again mounted, and, wheeling 
his troop to the right, galloped away* 

* What have you to do with these men, Philip ?' 
asked Heather, her mind now full of terrible possi- 

' I am not the man you once knew, and loved !' he 
answered hoarsely* 

' Not Philip Orloff?' she exclaimed, looking into 
his face, and now noting with a feeling akin to pity 
that it bore the impress of an act done years ago in 
her service. ' Then who are you, Philip ?' 

For answer he looked into her eyes, took her 
hands, then dropped them, and said in a voice of 
bitter, yet proud self-contempt : 'I am General Leroy, 
the leader of the Mongols.' 

Lifting her hands as if to ward off a blow, the 
woman stepped back. 

' Hate me, kill me, if you would do your country 
a service !' exclaimed Orloff, drawing a revolver from 
his belt and offering it to her ; * but, for God's sake ! 
don't look at me like that !' 

For a moment it seemed as if she would take him 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


at his word, for, glancing at her dead father, she took 
the offered weapon. 

Standing in front of her, Orloff waited. Half 
raising the revolver, Heather looked on its shining 
barrel. Her father's death, her friends' slaughter, 
the ruin of her country — all alike cried out for 
vengeance ; but a passion stronger than any one of 
these — ay, more powerful than all other human forces 
combined — rose to confront her first stern impulse, 
and, throwing the weapon on the ground, she ex- 
claimed, ' I dare not kill the man I love !' and fell 
at his feet. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

[ 344 1 



On September 24 the intelligence that war had been 
declared, accompanied by a warping with regard to 
possible attacks on capital cities, reached Adelaide 
by the overland line. 

This was the message Professor Jansen had in 
reality sent before catting off all communication with 

Deceived by the frequent cry of 'Wolf!' the various 
Australian Cabinets had grown to regard war-scares 
with an equanimity which even the demand for help 
from India had failed to seriously shake. Cabinet 
Ministers excused the financial side of this expedition, 
on the grounds that it must tighten certain silken 
bonds which were supposed to unite the colonies with 
the mother -country, and which, through defective 
tying or shoddiness of material, required periodic 
bracing up. The general public, as was its wont, 
shouted when the soldiers marched away, and then 
began to laugh at the whole affair. But neither the 
people nor their advisers deemed the question of 
hostile attack of sufficient importance to call for 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


special investigation as to present means of resist- 

Occupied by indecent scrambles for office, and 
arduous efforts to shield or whitewash various mem- 
bers of their respective bodies who had overstepped 
the bounds of legal honesty, tha Parliaments of 
Australia found little time in which to do anything 
more useful than flood the pages of Hansard with 
hopeless twaddle, in which the worker was deified as 
a god by men who valued him only as a beast of 
burden on which to ride to place and power. 

Standing in the relation of an unknown quantity, 
the various Labour parties sold their support to either 
faction in return for value received in the form of 
concessions ; and this system had naturally produced 
a condition of legislative immorality without precedent 
in the annals of history. In the excitement of this 
political debauch, the question of defence dropped out 
of sight. So long as the Governments of the day 
had enough men to overawe the working classes when 
they became openly rebellious, they were satisfied. 
Naturally the labour members would have displaced 
even this force were it in their power to do so, but, 
recognising that this was impossible, they contented 
themselves with effectually blocking the introduction 
of any scheme which promised to render it more 
effective. Moulded for obvious reasons on imperial 
lines, the Australian war offices were little in touch 
with the national pulse, and the military service of 
the colonies now held little in common with its natural 
aims and objects. 

The news that war had actually been declared, 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


produced an immediate and spontaneous revival in 
military matters. Men who had left the various 
companies and troops, either disheartened with exist- 
ing conditions or weary of the dull monotony of drill, 
crowded to again enrol. Every regiment in Australia 
could have been raised to double its war-footing in a 
week but for the one fact that, when the officers 
commanding made application for arms, it leaked out 
that they could not be obtained. 

Driven from office by what he considered a trick, 
Sir Eobert Blake now realized that his opportunity 
had come. Rising in his place in the House, he put 
the following questions without notice to the Minister 
for War : 

* 1. Is it a fact that there are no rapid-firing field- 
guns in the colony, and that in consequence 16- 
pounder muzzle - loading siege - guns have to be 

' 2. Is it not a fact that the Soudanese had better 
guns in 1885 than our forces have to-day? 

'8. Is it not a fact that, while the returns in the 
official report show that there are 821 rounds per gun 
available for the 25 -pounders, there are only 76 
rounds actually in stock ? 

' 4. Is it true that there are only 100 rounds each 
for the twenty 6-inch guns? 

* 5. Is it not a fact that 2,220,000 cartridges imported 
from England were stored in a damp magazine, and 
that in consequence of this the powder in the 1,800,000 
which remain is defective ? 

'6. Has not rifle practice been curtailed through 
shortness of ammunition, and is it not absolutely true 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


that the Government has barely 400 rounds per man 
for 4,000 troops?' 

Naturally the Minister refused to answer Sir Bobert's 
questions without reference to his departmental head, 
but the Leader of the Opposition could see that he had 
the Government cornered. 

The following day he had an interview with the 
leader of the Labour Party, and that gentleman, 
despite the fact that he had consistently opposed any 
increase in the military estimates, professed himself 
ready to give Sir Eobert a block vote if he moved a 
vote of censure. 

Personally the question interested him little, but 
the existing Government had refused to ' support a 
measure which was very dear to the hearts of his 
followers. This the Labour Leader had set before Sir 
Bobert as the price of his party's vote, and Blake had 
pledged himself to its support. 

In due course the Minister for War attempted to 
answer Sir Bobert Blake's questions, and failed. 

Then the Leader of the Opposition tabled a formal 
motion of censure, which, coming from him, the 
Government could not ignore. Just before the debate 
opened, the Premier received a telegram from Sir 
Peter McLoskie announcing the landing of the 
Mongols at Point Parker, and asking for immediate 

Becognising the nearness of the peril, the Hon. 
Henry Lewis implored the House to go to division 
without debate. But amid cries of 'Gag!' a dozen 
members sprang to their feet and demanded the right 
to speak to the motion. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Sir Bobert Blake's speech was brief and to the 
point. He showed the absolute rottenness of the 
defence system, pointing out as an instance that the 
submarine-mine field, which constituted the outer line 
of defence for the town and port of Newcastle, was 
situated only a quarter of a mile from the battery 
and town itself, and showing that, as modern cruisers 
carried ordnance capable of throwing projectiles seven 
miles, the enemy's fleet could lie beyond the marine 
field, and shell both battery and town in perfect safety. 
' This obsolete form of defence must be situated as in 
New York — at least seven miles from the position it is 
meant to defend — to be worth anything at all !' he 
thundered, ignoring the fact that his Government had 
in reality sanctioned the construction of this very 
work on the eve of their last defeat Knowing he had 
nothing to hope for from the Labour Party, the 
Premier contented himself with pointing out this faqt 
to Sir Bobert, and after a short, bitterly sarcastic 
speech, in which he threw the whole blame of the 
existing state of affairs on the Opposition, he again 
begged the House to go to a division, and sat down. 

Now a rush of meaningless sound filled the 
Chamber. Australian members of Parliament in- 
variably show a callous indifference for the Divine 
warning, * Beware of vain repetition ' ; and to-night, 
with foes gathering on the sea and the ring of armed 
and hostile feet echoing on their borders, they shouted 
their inane and disjointed ravings in the reporters' 
weary ears, as if no graver issue than the repeal of 
the dog-tax hovered overhead. Three days later a 
blear-eyed, dishevelled House recorded an adverse vote 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


against the Government, and, thanks to the abolition 
of the absurd custom of Ministerial re-election, Sir 
Eobert Blake took his seat as the head of a fresh 
Government. Goaded to a sense of its responsibility, 
alike by public and press indignation, the Legislature 
promised the new Premier loyal support. 

With characteristic impetuosity, Blake had imme- 
diately wired McLoskie an offer of help; and now 
the question arose, how was he to fulfil his promise? 

The Indian contingent had taken away the pick 
both of his officers and men, and those who remained 
were barely sufficient for local defence. Port Stephen, 
Port Hacking, Newcastle, and Botany, were all prac- 
tically open for a hostile landing. Then there were 
the larrikins and unemployed, to be reckoned with. 
The latter had during the debate made an attack on 
the Chinese quarters, and Sydney was, as a natural 
consequence, already almost in a state of siege. 

To further complicate matters, not only was Sir 
Eobert unable to satisfy McLoskie's urgent demand 
for ammunition, but he could not get sufficient to 
supply his own men. The one powder factory in 
Australia was at present at a standstill. In supply- 
ing the orders of the Victorian Government they had 
used up all their tubes, and, now that communication 
with England was cut off, were unable to obtain fresh 
supplies of cartridge alloy. Weakened though the 
fleet was by the absence of the vessels which had 
accompanied the contingent as a convoy, Blake now 
looked to this arm of service as his main line of 

He was to receive a rude awakening. In an inter- 

Digitized by VjOOQlC 


view with the Admiral of the station, that officer 
informed the Premier that imperial orders took 
precedence of colonial demands. Interests affecting 
England's very existence were at stake, and, much as 
he regretted the circumstance, the colonies must rely 
for defence solely on themselves. He had orders 
which necessitated his immediate presence elsewhere. 

Blocked at every turn, the Premier met the House 
with a firm front. Thrown on his own resources, he 
rose to the occasion, and stood revealed as the self- 
reliant man of years ago. Suppressing with a 
contemptuous gesture the howl of abuse which his 
news brought forth, he announced his intention of 
ordering all the Northern troops to advance at once to 
McLoskie's help. 

Filled with bitterness at Blake's attack, McFee, the 
late Minister for War, now rose to a point of order. 

He quite appreciated the Premier's difficulties, and 
his own desire was to aid him in every way. Still, 
his respect for constitutional methods forced him 
against his inclinations to challenge the Premier's 
right to order these men across the border. By the 
military Act each man was sworn in to serve in his 
own colony only. This being the case, he must ask 
the Premier to remember that they were Englishmen, 
and as such must resent, ay, fight to the death, any 
infringement of that glorious birthright of justice and 
liberty which had been handed down from father 
to son. 

Full of resentment against McLoskie for his treat- 
ment of the Labour question, the Labour members, 
despite their leader's recent promise, took up McFee's 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


objection; while one gentleman, who had striven for 
years to bring about the abolition of camels, sought 
to show, in the course of a long and fervid speech, 
that the present state of affairs could be easily traced 
to the continued presence of these alien animals in 
the Bourke district. 

After the debate on McFee's objection had lasted 
for two days, Sir Eobert Blake informed the House 
that he thought they had better save what breath 
remained for possible future contingencies. 

The Northern troops had volunteered to a man, and 
so effectually disposed of all constitutional difficulties. 

What had occurred in Sydney found a counterpart 
in each of the other colonies. The drain of supply- 
ing men to the Indian contingent had in all cases 
practically completed the disorganization of their 
military systems ; and now, with no navy to depend 
on, and barely enough ammunition for purposes of 
purely local defence, the various Cabinets found 
themselves utterly unable to send either men or 
material to Queensland. 

Following the example of Sir Bobert Blake, they 
now called on the people to find those means for 
defence which their obsolete and Parliament- 
dominated war offices were powerless to provide. 

On all sides the answer was the same. Capital 
and labour, face to face with a supreme peril, put 
aside their natural hatred, and stood united to fight 
for their children's lives and their women's honour. 
Thinned by voluntary migration to Africa and South 
America, and driven out by the cheap labour both 
of the West and the East, the working-classes of 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Australia had not improved either numerically or 
physically with the advancing years. 

The capitalistic classes, exposed alike to climatic 
influences and the iron law of environment, had 
similarly degenerated. The large body who stood 
midway between the two extremes of the social zone 
alone retained their full vitality. 

Still confronted with a danger which threatened 
the very existence of the race, the whole community 
became galvanized into warlike life, and cried out for 
arms with which to drive back the Mongols into the 
sea. Again the Cabinets had to reply that they had 
none. Thrown utterly on their own resources, the 
people armed themselves as best they could, and 
while Leroy was busy concentrating his splendidly- 
equipped and admirably-led army at Charleville, an 
ill -armed, undisciplined, heterogeneous, but des- 
perately-in-earnest mob began to collect on the 
Queensland border. 

When first the news of the invasion reached 
Brisbane, McLoskie's life was in imminent danger. 
Angry crowds seethed round the Premier's office and 
the Houses of Parliament, and demands for the body 
of the arch-traitor, as the Premier was now called, 
penetrated to the Chamber itself. 

Eising, Sir Peter McLoskie placed the position 
before the House. Scorning to attempt the defence 
of an impracticable position, he demanded the support 
of every section in the hour of national need : later 
they could deal with his Government as they thought 
best ; for the present, a united front could alone avert 
disaster. ' Whatever you may think of me personally,' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


said he, ' you know I am no coward ; and every man 
who refuses to stand by me to-day is alike a traitor 
to his party, his country, and the sacred cause of 
womanly purity !' 

Eecognising the truth of his words, and, while they 
hated him, swayed by his potent individuality, even 
his bitterest opponents were silenced. And so by 
reason of the very magnitude of the peril which 
many considered he was responsible for bringing 
upon them, the Opposition struck no blow, and the 
Premier, who had risen as a criminal, sat down once 
more a dictator. 


Digitized by VjOOQIC 

[ 354 3 



While the various Australian Cabinets, awakened 
from their long dream of false security by the ring of 
mailed knuckles on their very gates, were vainly 
attempting to organize an effective scheme of defence, 
the invaders went on with their work of concentration 
almost unopposed. 

Three weeks after the Mongol landing at Point 
Parker, the flotilla had returned, bringing a rein- 
forcement of twenty thousand troops, and every week 
fresh swarms of Black Flags kept pouring in over the 
undefended ocean way. With the arrival of the fleet, 
Leroy learnt that Hong Kong was now in Ching Tu's 
hands, that the Kussian army, thanks to internal 
revolution, had forced the Himalayas, and that the 
English forces, their supplies cut off by thousands of 
Indian fanatics, must either fight under conditions 
which rendered victory almost impossible, surrender, 
or starve. Desperately short of men, the Viceroy bad 
summoned every available ship for the defence of 
India, and now, as a last resort, every sailor who 
could be spared was being used for land operations. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Under these circumstances, the road to Australia 
was of necessity left open, and an unlimited supply of 
men placed at the command of the Mongol com- 
mander. Believed from all anxiety as to support by 
this development, Leroy now assumed the offensive 
on his eastern flank. 

Thursday Island, Cooktown, Townsville, and Kock- 
hampton, were successively occupied. In each case 
the inhabitants did all that men could do, handicapped 
by want of both organization and ammunition, but at 
best the defence was a useless waste of brave men's 
lives. Driving the ill-armed guerilla bands before 
them, the Mongols now practically held the whole of 
Queensland as far as latitude 25°. 

Leaving ten thousand regulars, and about an equal 
number of primitively armed pirates and camp- 
followers, to hold the conquered districts, Leroy 
waited with forty thousand splendidly-equipped troops 
and a horde of picked irregulars, at Charleville, for 
the enemy to attack him. The country around was 
admirably adapted for supplies, and, while resting on 
his own base, he was anxious to fight the enemy as 
far from theirs as possible. 

That the Australians meant to attack him was 
evidenced by the fact that his cavalry had, within 
the last few days, come into collision with their out- 
posts. Determined to know exactly what he had to 
meet, Leroy made a reconnaissance in force. Now, 
he knew that the enemy, besides being numerically 
weaker, was, save for a nucleus of infantry, artillery, 
and cavalry, composed of raw levies, armed with 
obsolete rifles and ordinary sporting guns, while the 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


brush he had with their advance column told him 
that the men's personal bravery, evident as it was, 
would hardly compensate for the peculiar modes of 
strategy of some of their officers. 

The Australian army had now arrived within 
striking distance, and so Leroy moved out of camp 
and took up a position from which he could attack. 
Holding that men lose self-reliance by lying behind 
earthworks, he left his entrenchments with a feeling 
of satisfaction. In common with another celebrated 
general, his rule was, * Always attack ; never wait to 
be attacked.' 

This, in the case of Asiatic troops, may seem a 
risky policy ; but Leroy knew his enemy, and recog- 
nised that, even supposing the personal dash of his 
troops to be inferior to that of the Australians, their 
better arms and discipline more than placed them on 
an equality with the opposing army. 

The night before the battle, Count Zenski sat in the 
General's tent. The old diplomatist had observed 
much during the past three weeks which, in his eyes, 
more than qualified the outward triumph of his one- 
time proteg^. He had seen this man, about whose 
future success so many of his own plans centred, 
staking every prize ambition had poured with such 
lavish profusion at his feet for the sake of a woman. 
And so, hopeless as he considered OrlofFs madness to 
bfe, he had ridden out from Charleville to-night to 
make one last effort in that most sacred cause — his 
own self-interest. 

With the present state of affairs, Orloff was as little 
satisfied as the Count. In the three weeks that had 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


gone by since his revealment to Heather, the man 
had undergone a process of reincarnation, in which 
he had become gradually clothed with some of the 
cast-aside robes of his old nobility. Philip Orloff was 
still General Leroy in name, but the instincts of the 
Mongol leader were daily giving place to the re- 
awakening aspirations of the original man. 

True to the confession over the body of her father, 
Heather had found it impossible to banish her love 
for Orloff. The announcement of his real position 
had shattered the ideal of her youth with the brutal 
swiftness of a lightning flash, and, standing amid the 
ruins of this self-constituted image, she deemed that 
the substance of love was buried beneath its pieces. 
But in the days which followed, when, in response to 
her wish, Cameron was laid at rest beside the love of 
his youth, and she realized the dread completeness of 
her loneliness, her heart turned, despite all efforts of 
will, towards its alter ego, for natural mutual attrac- 
tion is a law of nature, and not to be thwarted by 
artificial conditions, be they ever so powerful. 

Too proud to attempt to palliate his present position, 
Orloff had left Heather utterly alone from the first. 
While travelling in the same train to Charleville, he 
had never approached her carriage, and on arrival 
there, while seeing that she had every luxury, and the 
attendance of some of her own countrywomen, he 
studiously avoided forcing his presence upon her. In 
a formal note written before their journey South, he 
placed the position clearly before her. Wretch, he 
said, as he must ever appear in her eyes, he still 
meant to keep his promise to the dead, but in such a 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


way as to inflict as little pain as possible on the 
living. She had nothing to fear, and all her wishes 
would be carried into effect where possible; but he 
would never intrude himself upon her unless she 
wished it. 

At first the girl thanked God for even this mercy, 
but a time came when she asked him to come to her. 
A woman's heart is ever an unknown quantity, and in 
her solitude many things fought for Philip Orloff. 
The past was still peopled with the memories of his 
self-devotion ; the present, clouded as it was with his 
awful sin, held much which she began to wish 
explained. His tenderness when first he found her, 
his despair when he had to reveal himself, the delicacy 
which marked his absolute avoidance of herself, all 
pointed to the fact that he still loved her. That she 
loved him, all her self-loathing was powerless to blot 
otit of her mind, and so at last she wrote a note and 
asked him to come to her. From that hour Philip 
Orloff began to dominate General Leroy, and in the 
days which followed, the influence of a new force 
became evident in the character of the Mongol leader. 

It was the knowledge of this, and of the effect it 
was already beginning to exert on his future plans, 
which had determined Zenski to speak plainly to- 

Knowing well the nature of the man with whom 
he had to deal, Count Zenski made no immediate 
reference to the real object of his visit. Lighting a 
cigar, he sat on a camp-stool discussing to-morrow's 
chances with his companion, who filled in the pauses 
by glancing over a rough sketch which lay spread out 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


on his knees. Eising at last, the Count stretched his 
cramped legs. 

'Your sitting accommodation is execrable, Philip,' 
he grumbled. ' With permission, I will make use of 
your stretcher.* 

As Orloff nodded, Zenski threw himself down on 
the narrow bed. 

'Pardieuf he growled; 'I wonder you incon- 
venience yourself with this instrument of penance 
while dry ground is available.' 

' See what being a railway director may do even for 
an old soldier,' laughed Orloff, adding with a sneer : 
'You should have stayed with my colleague, Com- 
missioner Wang; he more affects feather-beds than 
hard knocks.' 

' I have but just left him,' retorted Zenski. 'He is 
most unobtrusive, and has no desire to interfere with 
your plans.' 

' Not when danger is ahead,' interrupted Orloff, 
with bitter contempt. ' Later he will doubtless be 
more in evidence than myself.' 

' If you win, mon brave.' 

' 1 must win.' 

'You are confident, Philip,' replied the Count 
slowly. ' Eemember, these men come of a race who 
can fight. Their case is desperate, and more than 
all, their honour will forbid them to yield to China- 
men ; already in affairs of outposts your Mongols 
have found this out.' 

'I admit all that you put forward,' said Orloff; 
' still, I must rout them. In the Crimea the English 
won at least one battle without the aid of their officers, 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


but the day when bull-headed courage and cold steel 
could win battles is long past. The rabble in our 
front, brave as they doubtless are, will never get 
close enough to cross bayonets with my Mongols. 
Badly armed, worse led, and too short of ammunition 
to be really dangerous under any circumstances, I will 
sweep them away like flies. Their very heroism will 
help me to annihilate them.' 

' Pardieu ! if what you say is a fact, they are in a 
bad case ; but,' added Zenski, ' are you sure of all 

' That most of it is true, you should know yourself,' 
retorted Orloff. ' As to their leadership, a spy just 
returned from their camp reports that even now the 
various commandants are squabbling as to who shall 
assume the chief command.' 

' Then, at what hour may I inform Commissioner 
Wang that you will expect him to share in the honour 
of victory ?' asked the Count maliciously. 

* He is jackal enough to discover that without your 
aid,' retorted Orloff. 

' You are irritated with our Celestial compatriot, my 

' I am more than irritated,' muttered Orloff. 

' The pair of you always remind me of that charm- 
ing infant legend entitled " The Monkey and the 
Nuts," ' murmured Zenski, watching a smoke-ring 
float towards the roof of the tent. 

'By heaven, you're about right!' exclaimed Orloff, 
a dark flush showing through his sun-tanned skin. 
' But this is the last nut I will pull out of the fire for 
the yellow hound !' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


As he spoke Orloff rose, and stood in the tent- 
entrance. Zenski had placed the position before him 
in a manner which he could not gainsay. In point 
of fact, he had himself already realized it, and late 
events all combined to strengthen his long-wakened 
suspicions. Now he understood that others were 
also aware of the Chinaman's designs, and, filled 
with a fierce sense of shame by the thought that his 
contemptible position was known to outsiders as well 
as to himself, Orloff became imbued with a savage 
desire to choke out the life of the barbarian who 
dared thus to make a cat's-paw of him. 

Watching, Zenski could see his companion's hands 
clench with passion. Satisfied with the effect pro- 
duced, the Count went on smoking. Personally, he 
rather admired Wang, and in effect had long admitted 
to himself that, were he in the Chinaman's position, 
he would have acted exactly as he was doing. To 
make use of other people had always been the Count's 
motto, and so, as a brother diplomatist, he cordially 
endorsed Commissioner Wang's methods. As, how- 
ever, these methods, admirable as they might be, 
regarded from the Chinaman's standpoint, were 
opposed to the Count's own designs, the old Kussian 
was now prepared to render them inoperative, even if 
this demanded the absolute extinction of Wang. In 
face of what had happened since Heather Cameron's 
appearance at Charleville, Zenski fully recognised 
that, for the safety of his own future plans, either she 
or the Chinese Commissioner must be removed. 
Personally, he would sooner have got rid of Heather 
at once, and Wang at a later stage oi the game ; but, 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


knowing Orloff, he despaired of accomplishing the 
first part of his designs, and so to-night his real 
object was to induce Orloff to sweep Wang out of his 
path diplomatically. 

When at last Orloff turned, his face was set, and 
the cold look in his eyes appeared to Zenski full of 

Seating himself beside the stretcher, the General 
said quietly : 

'What do you think this Chinaman means to 

' Make use of you till such time as he thinks he 
can do without you, mon ami, and then remove you,' 
replied Zenski frankly. 

1 But how ?' asked Orloff, unmoved by the other's 
statement. ' My officers are devoted to me, even the 
Mongols recognise that I have a use ; jackals don't 
turn on their feeder.' 

' You are blind, Philip !' retorted Zenski, a trifle 
contemptuously ; ' had you followed my advice given 
in Spero's cabinet the night you landed, Wang's 
designs could have been easily met, and when the 
time came, you could have hoisted him with his own 
petard. As it is, you have given the game into his 
hands — for what ?' 

' Well, for what?' asked Orloff coldly. 

'For a woman !' retorted Zenski, with a gesture of 

' No, for an angel.' 

' Bah ! why trouble to classify her?' growled Zenski. 
' You have ruined yourself by bringing her here, and 
if you fall, a worse fate awaits her than the embrace 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


of the Kalmuck from whose arms you took her to be a 
curse to all of us.' 

' Zenski, what do you mean ?' demanded Orioff, in 
a voice, low, but full of concentrated passion. 

' What I say/ replied the Bussian. ' This woman, 
by inducing you to save your prisoners, and to punish 
those barbarities which these Mongols regard as sacred 
privileges, has alienated their respect and devotion 
from you. Her beauty — for I admit she is beautiful, 
Philip — has caused these very officers you trust to cast 
longing eyes on their General's leman.' 

' Liar !' thundered Orioff, stretching out his arms. 

' As they call her,' Zenski went on. ' Don't be a 
fool, man! can't you understand these men well 
enough yet to see how they must interpret the 

' My God, you're right, Zenski !' groaned Orioff. 
' Go on.' 

' Quick to see how the wind blows, Wang has made 
capital of all these things. His agents have sown 
disaffection among the men ; he himself has begun to 
tamper with the officers, and already not only your 
position, but the possession of the woman for whose 
sake you have risked everything, has been offered to 

' The hound !' growled Orioff through his teeth ; ' I 
could forgive everything but this last.' 

*I was wrong in that,' interrupted Zenski; 'he 
has not offered Miss Cameron to anyone.' 

' Then what did you mean by a worse fate than the 
one I saved her from?' demanded Orioff, his mind 
full of dread apprehension. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


' He intends to keep her for himself.' 

When he asked the question, Orloff knew what the 
answer would be; yet now that it had come he sat 
silent. There is an anger which is too deep for 
words ; such a one possessed the man who sat facing 
Count Zenski. 

' Who told you all this ?' Orloff asked after awhile, 
and his voice was strangely expressionless. 

' Some of these facts I have gathered in various 
ways ; but Eedski, a man you can afford to trust, has 
confirmed all I have told you,' replied Zenski. 

'It is too late to do anything now, 7 muttered Orloff. 
' Should I happen to fall to-morrow, and 7 — he went 
on bitterly — ' one of my own men may see that I 
do ' 

' No, 7 interrupted Zenski, ' you are safe from them 
as yet. Pardieu! you are still too useful, mon 

' That being so,' exclaimed Orloff coldly, 'after I 
have beaten the enemy, I will attend to his Highness 
Commissioner Wang. 7 

' He will want your individual attention, 7 retorted 
Zenski, adding, in the low, earnest tones of a friend, 
' Philip, as one who has some claim on you, let me 
implore you, for your own, for her sake ' — he omitted 
to add principally for his own sake — ' send Heather 
Cameron into the enemy's lines. While she remains 
with you danger must also remain. With her away, 
you can regain your lost position in a day. And 
when the time comes, we can attend to Monsieur 

'No! 7 replied Orloff, in a tone which forbade further 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


argument. He had sacrificed honour, trampled his 
better nature in the dust, and filled his birthplace 
with misery and blood, to regain her ; and now, even 
though her presence threatened his own destruction, 
he dared not let her go. Face to face with the awful 
products of his infamy, and now reaping in the 
treachery of h'is followers the dread results of a 
sowing such as his must be, he clung to this one 
woman, content to risk the possibility of her wrecking 
his dream of ambition so that she saved him from 

Eecognising the folly of further discussion, Zenski 
rose, and, shrugging his shoulders, walked to the 
entrance. Calling the orderly who held his horse, 
he mounted, and saying, 'Good-night, Philip; I will 
return in the morning in time to congratulate you/ 
he rode slowly through the lines in the direction of 

Left alone, for he had early dismissed his staff in 
consequence of the Count's visit, Orloff threw himself 
on his stretcher. For the morrow's result he had few 
fears. In everything save the personal courage and 
dash of his men, he held overwhelming advantages, 
and, as he had said to Zenski, he had no intention of 
allowing the Australians to cross bayonets with his 
troops. Not that the Mongols were cowards, but 
simply because there was no necessity for the risk of 
pitting them against a foe fighting alike with the 
courage of inheritance, pride of nationality, and 

It was his course of action after the battle which 
troubled the Mongol General. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Each day he became less inclined to continue this 
gruesome leadership, which, in proportion to its 
success, increased in infamy. Now that he realized 
the fact that he was surrounded by traitors only 
waiting a favourable opportunity to wrest even this 
ignoble pre-eminence from him, Orloff's mind was 
divided between a desire to pour out vengeance on 
his false comrades, and a powerful and hourly- 
growing longing to cast himself free from the whole 
honourless mercenary crew who fought under the 
Dragon banner. 

To-night this last impulse, fed by the thoughts of 
the woman he loved, struggled so strongly for the 
mastery that the Mongols narrowly escaped having 
no leader for the impending battle. But military 
instinct, and the natural repulsion of a soldier to 
deserting his post in the face of an enemy, fought 
for them; and so when General Leroy fell asleep, 
he had determined to stand to his colours, leav- 
ing the question of his future action to be decided 
when the victory was won. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

[367 3 



About the time that Count Zenski left General Leroy's 
tent, Ted Johnson, now a Major, having finished the 
circuit of his outposts, dismounted, and, unbuckling 
one rein to give his horse every available inch of 
foraging room, sat down with his back against the 
wheel of a gun-carriage. Opening his cartridge- 
pouch, the Major brought out a pipe and stick of 
tobacco, and soon, with the briar between his teeth, 
became absorbed in that occupation, dear to an honest 
smoker, aptly termed ' cutting a fill.' 

Since the day he carved his way out of Fort 
Mallarraway, Ted Johnson had seen much of life and 
not a little of death, with the result that the easy- 
going manager had now developed into one of those 
self-reliant, dare-devil guerilla leaders of which the 
Australian Bushman is the ideal prototype. 

Once through the cordon which surrounded the 
Fort, Johnson had discovered the loss of Heather and 
his old master. Loyal to the core, he now refused to 
desert his friends, even though to attempt their 
recovery promised nothing but his own destruction. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


In face of the surroundings, the whole decision was a 
matter of seconds. 

' Go on, By an,' he said to his second in command ; 
' I've forgotten something;' and, wheeling his horse, 
he galloped back. 

How he intended to accomplish his task, splendid 
Bushman though he was, Ted hardly knew. How- 
ever, that question was settled for him by the appear- 
ance of Hatten's party, followed by a cloud of yelling 
Kalmucks. As the situation had now become im- 
practicable even in his eyes, Ted wheeled about, 
and, in company with the last of Fort Mallarraway 
defenders, struck South. Aided by picked horses in 
splendid condition, the remnant of Hatten's Eingers 
soon out-distanced the pursuing cavalry, and after a 
march lit by suns of fire, and dogged alike by the 
Kalmuck horse and the demons of thirst, their Bush- 
craft saved them. 

About Heather and her father there was no room 
for even the slightest hope, and, despite his love, even 
Hatten had to admit that to attempt to solve it by 
remaining in the North was worse than madness. 
But while both men now recognised that Ted's first 
impulse must have ended in useless suicide, Hatten, 
during that desperate retreat, thought only of revenge. 
Ted, in common with every man who opposed the 
Mongols, was filled with the same spirit, but with 
him, as with many another, there was something 
beyond. His mate, on the other hand, hugged this 
one passion to his heart, and sought to live only 
because life was necessary to feed it. 

Not one of Eyan's party ever rejoined Hatten, and 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


so the few ill-armed, stern-eyed men, fighting every 
foot of ground with a heroism which made their 
backward march historic, knew all were dead, and 
swore that all should be avenged. 

During their retreat South, the gaps made in 
Hatten's Eingers by Mongol bullets and the manifold 
dangers of such a march were not only filled, but his 
strength increased every day ; and on this nucleus a 
stout-hearted, irregular force, formidable in numbers, 
and splendid in physique and courage, rapidly formed. 
Powerless to provide them with orthodox weapons, 
their leader fell back on his original inspiration, and 
armed them — or, rather, told them to arm them- 
selves — with shear-blade lances. At the head of these 
natural soldiers, Hatten and Johnson eventually 
reached the Boma-Brisbane railway, to find that on 
its southern side a force was concentrating to take the 
field against the Mongols. Leaving their men in 
camp, the two leaders pushed on to Brisbane — Hatten 
to make every effort to get a supply of carbines and 
ammunition, and Ted to help his chief, and look 
after his lady love and her mother. 

After parting with Johnson at Cloncurry, Edith 
and Mrs. Enson had reached Brisbane without 
adventure. There, however, the news of the invasion 
soon reached them, and the days which followed were 
to Edith heavy with almost hopeless longing; for, 
much as she desired news from the North, she yet 
felt for its coming a dread before unknown in her 
joyous existence. The possibility of Johnson's death 
awoke in her the certainty that she had never prized 
his devotion as she should have done, and with this 


Digitized by VjOOQIC 


realization, the tender desire which had glowed in her 
heart when saying farewell at Cloncurry became a 
living, ever -increasing flame. With bitter self- 
reproach, she now recalled the many acts by which 
she had made light of his love, and, stricken with 
self-condemnation, she most illogically held herself to 
blame for not having stayed behind with Heather, 
and shared the fate which she felt certain had befallen 
both her lover and her friend. This quixotic desire 
was, however, in no wise held by her mother. That 
estimable woman, being at a considerable distance 
from the Mongols, assured her daughter that their 
friends were in God's hands, and consequently quite 
safe ; and then, after the manner of certain Christians 
who cheerfully cast all the responsibility of their 
fellows on the Almighty, Mrs. Enson, somewhat in- 
consistently, began to wonder whatever would become 
of herself if Brisbane were bombarded. In her heart, 
the old lady really nursed a grievance so tremendous 
that there was little room in that organ for specula- 
tion as to how the coming of the Mongols would 
affect her friends. 

The invasion of these barbarians ' had put the 
times out of joint,' so far as she was personally con- 
cerned, not so much by their actual coming, as by the 
time of it. Their precipitancy had not only inter- 
fered with her daughter's marriage ; it had, if nothing 
worse, put back indefinitely her affair with the Count, 
and at her time of life this was more than a dis- 
appointment : it was a calamity. 

Of the Count himself nothing was known in 
Brisbane, but much was surmised; some few still 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


held to Mrs. Enson's view — namely, that he was, if 
alive, fighting gallantly for his dear adopted land. 
But the vast majority spoke of the leviathan railway 
director in connection with lynch law, and tar and 

A telegram at last set Edith's fears at rest so far as 
her lover was concerned, and, soon after, Johnson's 
arrival in Brisbane put the two women in possession 
of the dread story of the past weeks. Clouded as it 
was by the realization of her fears with regard to 
Heather and Cameron, Johnson's arrival brought 
back new life to Edith, and as the careworn soldier 
caught her in his arms, she realized as she had never 
done before what manner of man this was who loved 

The times had changed the light-hearted Bushman 
into the resolute, masterful leader, still as loyal and 
true, but now a lover after a woman's own heart — one 
to look up to and obey, not because he would ever ask 
obedience, but for the reason that his personality 
wpuld ever suggest it. For long these two talked on 
of much that was sad and much that was tender; 
then, as Johnson rose to go, the woman spoke out in 

'When are you going to get your new uniform, 
Ted?' said she. 

' They've got to find us arms before we bother them 
about that, old woman !' laughed Ted ; and then he 
kissed her, and went in search of Hatten. 

When, after a useless search for arms, the two men 
again left Brisbane, Hatten had been gazetted Colonel 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


commanding his own irregulars, and Johnson Major 
in the same force. 

At first an attempt was made by certain members 
of Parliament to give these two appointments to 
infantry officers, neither of whom could ride, and 
whose only known qualifications as military leaders 
were that they could command two or three hundred 
votes apiece. Eealizing, however, the gravity of the 
crisis, and warned that such an attempt would cause 
a mutiny, McLoskie put his foot down on the job, and 
placed their natural chiefs at the head of the Ringers. 

For the past fortnight Johnson had scarcely been 
out of his saddle. 

With the first strain, the Australian commissariat 
service naturally had gone to pieces, and the question 
of how to feed the men concentrating on the border 
grew less easy of solution with the arrival of each 
column. Absolute disbandment, or a reversion to 
cannibalism, based on the theory of the survival of 
the fittest, were the alternatives which stared the 
authorities in the face when Hatten and his Ringers 
rode into the camp. 

The northern districts of New South Wales had 
sent a squadron splendidly horsed and respectably 
armed ; but these, with a few companies of Queens- 
land Mounted Rifles, represented all the cavalry the 
allied forces could muster, or, rather, all they could 
provide with arms. Consequently, superior as these 
men individually were, they were totally unable to 
offer a serious resistance to the overwhelming masses 
of Mongol horse who now scoured the country, 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


cutting off convoys, and attacking isolated parties of 
Australians who were on the march to join their main 

Being nearly all ' out-back ' men, the Bingers 
possessed revolvers and rifles of their own, and now 
that they were further armed with Dick's Australian 
lances, their value as scouts, or in any operations 
against cavalry, was considerable. 

Brought up in the saddle, inured to danger, and 
schooled to quickness of eye and hand on cutting-out 
camps and in branding yards, and accustomed as they 
had become, while overlanding with cattle or looking 
for fresh country away on the Western plains, to do 
with little water and less food, the men who followed 
Hatten were more than a match for the Kalmucks in 
Bush-craft, and their equals in skill and endurance. 
To them the task of providing supplies and guarding 
convoys was entrusted, and so, both at the camp and 
during the march on Charleville, the guerilla horse 
hung like a protecting cloud on the % flanks and front 
of the Australian army. 

To-night a portion of them, under Major Johnson, 
formed part of the advance guard, with orders to feel 
and keep in touch with the enemy, and Ted had just 
made a round of his outposts, and was now waiting 
the arrival of his friend Colonel Dick Hatten. 

Thoughts of the woman he loved naturally came to 
the soldier as he watched the smoke-rings float lazily 
into the hot, breathless air of the summer night. 
Bing followed ring in almost unbroken succession, 
and as he noted their upward flight, the possibility 
rose before him that he, too, might be as one of them 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


ere another sunset ; and then what of Edith ? But 
the man was no dreamer, and, besides, he had grown 
so used to Death, had met him face to face so often, 
that he had ceased to regard his horrent front as men 
less accustomed to such company do. He had a part 
to play, and, though her voice was a sob when she 
said it, his promised wife had told him she would 
sooner mourn a hero than not have known one. 
Still, to-night, with the enemy in front, and faint 
echoes of the morrow's battle even now ringing out 
from the rifles of the opposing scouts, Ted felt that he 
would have given much just to hold the girl in his 
arms once more, just to hear the benediction of her 
love murmured into his ears — so soon to be deafened 
with the riot of trampling hoofs and sharp-tongued 

So he sat until the close atmosphere grew chill, 
and that nameless shudder passed through the air 
which only comes when the night is dying. Then 
the sound of horses' hoofs, followed by a challenge, 
broke the quiet, and a man rode up beside him, and, 
dismounting, threw his reins to an orderly. 

Eising, Johnson said : 

' Well, what have they decided on ?' 

Walking out of earshot of the trooper, Dick Hatten 
replied bitterly : 

' To throw away our one chance.' 


' By fighting Leroy.' 

'It's risky, I admit; but, hang it all, Dick! we 
can't run away from them.' 

' We may have to,' retorted Hatten. ' You ought 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


to know better than to talk such clap-trap. This 
absurd British cheek sickens me ; here we are without 
discipline, short of arms and ammunition, practically 
leaderless, and miles from our base.' 

' Where the deuce is it, any way ?' grinned Ted. 

Ignoring the interruption, Hatten continued : 

' And we are asked to face a picked army, that we, 
at any rate, know can fight, splendidly armed and 
disciplined, led by European officers, and in absolute 
touch with an impregnable base.' 

' Bemember, if reports don't lie, these Chinkies are 
not quite a happy family themselves.' 

' They do lie !' retorted Hatten. ' All this informa- 
tion is a trap, I'll swear, and we'll find it out to- 
morrow ; but the chuckle-heads over yonder have 
swallowed all the humbug Leroy has kindly seen 
them supplied with.' 

' Was the decision unanimous ?' asked Johnson. 

' Yes, the only one that was. I tried to point out 
the advantages of retiring, and working our raw levies 
into condition while we were getting the enemy away 
from his permanent supplies, but my suggestion was 
scouted as unworthy of our high traditions. They 
were only Chinamen, and so must be attacked, or our 
prestige would be gone for ever.' 

' Then you do think it's a mistake ?' said Johnson 

'It's a crime!' 

' Well, we must only do our best,' replied Ted, who 
in his heart felt all an Australian's scorn for a China- 
man, despite the lessons he had learned. ' Who is to 
lead us ?' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


* God only knows !' 

* What ?' exclaimed his companion, now thoroughly 
alarmed. ' Hasn't that been settled ?' 

'Well, no. You see, they weren't unanimous on 
that point,' sneered Hatten. 

' You are joking, man.' 

' It's all such a farce, you could hardly blame me if 
I were,' replied the Colonel wearily. 

' But surely to heaven something has been decided 
upon ?' 

' Certainly, Ted — a sort of go-as-you-please tourna- 
ment. You remember all the fuss there was as to 
which colony should provide the commander for the 
Indian contingent ?' 

< Yes.' 

' To-night we have had a repetition of it. As you 
know, the commandants of the New South Wales and 
Victorian forces could not leave their colonies. Well, 
their seconds in command refused to play second 
fiddle to Colonel Don, our man.' 

' What d d rot ! He's senior officer in his own 


' Any way, the other beggars were backed up by 
their Ministers for War. They're both soft-goods 
men, and reckon that neither of their colonies can 
afford to miss what they term a magnificent advertise- 

'Hang it all! they don't look on it in the same 
light as a cricketing-tour or a boat-race, do they ?' 
gasped Johnson. 

' No — as a second Soudan contingent, only localized ; 
and as they still cling to the idea that Leroy and his 


by Google 


men are merely improved market-garden chows, each 
man is simply beside himself to command our army 
— save the mark ! Such little matters as shortness of 
cartridges and want of discipline are too trivial to 
consider. You see, according to these sucking 
warriors, we're going to end it all in half an hour, 
and, to help us, the Chinkies, who at their best can 
only fight behind earthworks, have come out into 
the open just for us to mow them down, don't you 

* I can't understand that move myself,' muttered 
Johnson. ' Surely you'll admit we're too good for 
them man to man !' 

'A lot too good,' admitted Hatten. 'And that's 
what troubles me. You may be sure Leroy knows 
all about us, or he would never have risked it. The 
beggar never means to let us get close enough to do 
any harm, and reckons the prestige it will give him 
more than worth the risk.' 

' By God ! some of us will reach the yellow dogs 
all the same,' growled Johnson. 'But go on; how 
did it end ?' 

' It all resolved itself, as usual with our politicians 
and soldiers, into a question of stars and titles. Each 
Minister felt that a possible P.C. hung to his decision, 
each officer that a baronetcy and C.B. would probably 
reward the General of the victorious army. So no 
one would give way, and to-morrow the troops of each 
colony will be led by their own commanders acting in 
unison with each other.' 

' What ! three Generals ? God help Leroy !' laughed 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


' God help us ! you mean/ muttered Hatten, as an 
orderly rode up with some despatches for his com- 

' I'll be back in half an hour, Colonel/ said John- 
son, walking towards his horse. * Will you be here ?* 

' Yes/ replied Hatten, as his brother officer cantered 

Like his friend, Dick had entered upon a new role 
during the last few months, but with him it had made 
little apparent difference. He had always been accus- 
tomed to a life of adventure ajid more or less personal 
risk, and when the time came, it found the man ready 
to step into his new position without effort. 

A soldier's life such as he was called on to follow 
absolutely realized his aspirations. For while he had 
a natural aversion from the professional killer of men, 
classing him as a butcher without even that individual's 
excuse of necessity, he fully realized the nobility of 
fighting for his native land. 

Beloved by the men he had gathered round him, he 
in return treated them as comrades, who, having 
tacitly acknowledged him as their leader, were pre- 
pared, while calling him friend, to obey him with 
unquestioning promptness. 

Wrapped up as he was, not only in the fortunes of 
his country, but also in those of his men, the appar- 
ently inevitable disasters of the morrow filled him 
with a feeling akin to despair, and still he was power- 
less. To speak his thoughts openly would only be to 
fan the already waking spark of discontent into flame, 
and Dick was too good a soldier to do that, least of all 
with the enemy in front. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


With him this question of to-morrow overshadowed 
all else. For Heather, the woman he so madly loved 
but a few weeks ago, he still felt a tender regret ; nor 
did the desire to take revenge on her murderers even 
for a moment forsake him ; but in this connection a 
strange thing had happened, for now the desire to 
kill had in great part taken the place of that love for 
which he had so long pleaded but never won. 

Still brooding on the folly that promised ruin for 
them all, Hatten remained unconscious of the travail 
in the east, where now amid waves of blood the sun 
rose slowly above the radiant horizon. Then above 
the mutterings of the men a sharp rattle of musketry 
rang out, as if to salute the waking day, and, shaking 
off his gloom, Hatten walked to his horse, and, mount- 
ing, galloped to the front. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 




On the summit of a slight rise a group of cavalry 
officers stood looking through their glasses out over 
the level lands which stretched towards Charleville. 

As Hatten neared the foot of this vantage-ground 
the roll of musketry grew more sustained. Pulling 
up on the crown of the hillock, the Colonel of the ' 
Eingers could see puffs of smoke bursting from some 
vineyards which occupied the farther distance, and 
nearer could detect through his glasses Major John- 
son's column standing under cover of a belt of timber. 

Beyond the vineyards the Mongol skirmishers could 
be easily made out through his field-glasses, but so far 
the total absence of smoke above their lines pointed 
to the conclusion that they were not returning the 
fire of the Queensland Mounted Infantry. Another 
thing which struck Dick as not only strange but 
ominous was that their advance seemed wholly un- 
checked by the Queenslanders' volleys. Inferior as 
the men's weapons were, Hatten felt certain that the 
enemy were now within range, and knowing that 
every one of the skirmishers was a crack shot, their 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


inability to make any visible impression on the enemy 
was the more unaccountable. 

The solution of both enigmas was simple. Eealizing 
its prob&ble effect on raw troops, Leroy had decided 
to use not only smokeless but noiseless powder in this 
first real battle, while the failure of the Mounted 
Infantry to stay the advance of the opposing 
skirmishers, even when within easy range of their 
rifles, was due to the fact that the bullet-proof 
uniforms of the Mongols were quite equal to resisting 
the penetrating power of these obsolete weapons at 
anything beyond point-blank range. 

Firm in their determination to attack Leroy, the 
Australian commanders had set their forces in motion 
at daybreak, and now their unwieldy columns began 
to pour round the base of the hill from which Hatten 
was watching what looked like a similar movement on 
the part of the Mongol General. 

Numerically the national army mustered between 
thirty and forty thousand men, but of these the great 
majority were totally without discipline and miserably 
armed, while the enemy they were now being drawn 
up to oppose consisted of fully forty thousand mag- 
nificently armed and trained regulars, supported by a 
horde of fierce guerillas. 

'For hearths and homes !' That one appeal, 
which has never failed to arouse a people not wholly 
enslaved by luxury or oppression, had waked Australia 
at last. 

When the summons came, the farmer left his wheat 
to the birds of heaven. The tradesman cast aside 
his life of sordid bargaining, and girded on that man- 

Digitized by VjOOQlC 


hood which even the tricks of commerce had been 
powerless to take away. The clerk forgot his 
cigarettes, and the Bushman thanked God that he 
had a horse left fit to carry him to the border. 

So from the far western plains and the heat-cursed 
inland towns the Southerners poured, disorganized, 
ill armed, and full of that turbulent spirit which deems 
that to obey is the watchword of a slave, but also 
ready after their own fashion to fight for, and if need 
be die with, their brothers of the North. 

In that strange host unionist and free labourer, 
squatter and shearer, marched side by side, for despite 
the conscience-wakened distrust of capital, and the 
craven promptings of a few of their own self-con- 
stituted leaders, the unionists as a body came out of 
the ordeal scathless. They had wives and children, 
fathers and mothers, whom they loved every whit as 
well as did their masters, and Australia was as dear 
to them as to the men to whom it had proved a more 
generous mother. Though New South Wales, Victoria, 
and Queensland were naturally most largely repre- 
sented, the other two colonies had sons among the 
ranks of the national army, men who had travelled 
thousands of miles by rail to strike a blow for their 
native land. 

Taught from their birth to look on Chinamen as 
inferior beings, creatures to be tolerated chiefly 
because they grew vegetables, and so saved their 
customers the trouble, human footballs on which the 
youthful larrikin might with safety practise those 
mighty kicks, later to win him place and fame as 
an exponent of the national game, the Australians 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


advanced upon the Mongols not only -without fear, 
but with positive contempt. 

Had the enemy been Eussians, the question of 
their own want of discipline and arms would doubt- 
less have been treated with a proper measure of con- 
sideration; but now, because their opponents were 
only Chinamen, both officers and men wrapped them- 
selves in a mantle of fatuous self-confidence, as little 
borne out by logic as the head-covering manoeuvre of 
the danger-threatened ostrich. 

Hatten, and a few of the Queenslanders who had 
already come in contact with the Mongols, grasped 
to a greater or less extent the gravity of the situation, 
but their voices were drowned in the clamour of men 
who refused to regard the Chinamen from any other 
than a Little Bourke Street standpoint. 

The three commanders, with their respective staffs, 
had taken up a position on the rise occupied by 
Hatten, and as it soon became palpable even to them 
that Leroy did not mean to wait to be attacked, they 
now decided to draw their forces up in line of battle. 

Taking his orders from Major-General Don, the 
Queensland Commandant, Hatten formed his brigade 
under the cover of the rise. Having intelligent men 
to deal with, all able to ride, and nearly all quick to 
grasp a common-sense command, Hatten had little 
trouble in carrying out his chief's instructions. Nor, 
beyond a certain unsteadiness, which seems inseparable 
from militia, could much fault be found with the 
manner in which a couple of the Queensland regi- 
ments, the artillery, and the New South Wales cavalry 
took up their respective positions. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


The disposition of the raw levies was, however, 
quite another matter. An attempt had been made to 
classify these into regiments, and in some cases, 
where a considerable number of the members had 
already served, a fair measure of utility had been 
arrived at. 

Major-General Don now suggested that the most 
efficient of these should be placed in fighting line, 
and that the rest should be held in reserve, urging 
that their want of discipline would be almost certain 
to cause confusion during any movements made under 
fire. This, however, failed to fall in with the ideas of his 
colleagues, most of whose men would thus be debarred 
from sharing in the repulse of the first onslaught of 
the enemy. 

While the dispute was at its height, Hatten drew 
his General's attention to the fact that the skirmishers 
were falling back on their supports. 

The enemy had suddenly pushed forward a battery 
of machine-guns, and even as the Mounted Infantry 
poured out of the vineyards, the leaves were cut from 
the stems as if struck by a hurricane of hail. 

' These beggars seem to know what they're about,' 
muttered Don, a trifle uneasily. Then, recognising 
that a misunderstanding now might prove even more 
fatal than his colleagues' proposition, he gave in, and, 
calling Hatten, whispered, ' For God's sake, Colonel, 
try and help them to get these poor devils decently 
dressed !' 

' They're not butchered yet, sir !' retorted Hatten. 

' Never mind ; they soon will be, if these devils 
handle all their batteries like that one,' growled Don, 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


upon whom the truth was beginning to dawn with 
unpleasant distinctness. 

The task of forming an undisciplined mob into any 
semblance of military order is herculean enough on 
a peaceful parade, even when entrusted to efficient 
officers. Now, with the men under the influence of 
an overwhelming excitement, and with their officers 
in many cases more ignorant than themselves, the 
attempt promised to be hopeless. 

But for a happy thought of Sir Peter McLoskie's, it 
would doubtless have been. That astute politician, 
while for diplomatic reasons silent on the subject, had 
long recognised the utter incapacity of the average 
Australian volunteer officer. Fortunately, in his hour 
of peril he had turned to the one sheet-anchor of the 
existing military system, and wired to Sir Eobert 
Blake : 

* Send me every drill-instructor procurable, drunk 
or sober.' 

Afraid to cause jealousy by interfering, and, indeed, 
hardly capable of doing much good with infantry if he 
did, Hatten remarked to the officer commanding the 
brigade : 

' Why don't you make those lazy ' non-coms ' do this 
pottering work ? It's what they're paid for.' 

* Bai Jove! you're right,' gasped the Colonel thank- 

And so the ' non-coms,' as is their wont, untied one 
more knot in the Australian military service. 

Biding down the line to join his brigade, Hatten's 
mind reverted to the account of that army of the 
'beggars' which occurs in Dutch history. Every 


Digitized by VjOOQIC 


description of uniform was represented here, from the 
gold and blue of the staff, to the moleskin pants, 
Crimean shirt and * soft felt ' of the digger and Bush- 
man. And, alas for the men who handled them here ! 
every class of weapon found a place — save only those 
adapted for modern war. Of the thirty thousand men 
who stood waiting with sublime, or, rather, childish, 
confidence the onset of the foe, not more than one- 
third were from a military standpoint armed at all ; 
the rest waited the Mongols with weapons originally 
bought, and only fit, for the annihilation of crows 
and ducks. Glancing at the men themselves, the 
Colonel was struck by their sturdy bearing and 
admirable physique. So it always is; the best and 
bravest are the victims the God of War demands, and 
to the end will get. 

In the bright, restless eyes the light of battle had 
already begun to burn. Last night many a tear for 
the dear ones in lonely huts and flower-scented 
cottages had trickled all unchecked down sun-tanned 
cheeks, and many a beardless lip had quivered with a 
not ignoble emotion; but now the night, with its 
tender whisperings, was dead, and the war-warm sun 
lit up the pathway alike of glory and revenge. 

Hatten could almost have laughed aloud to see 
such self-deceit, and yet it was so pitiful that he 
dropped his head and rode on in moody silence. 

Falling back on the Eingers, under Major Johnson, 
the Mounted Infantry quickly re-formed, and, under 
cover of the fire from a battery of field artillery, they 
now advanced to again occupy the vineyards. Moving 
forward in loose formation, they had almost reached 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


their former position, when a biting fire cut into their 
ranks. Keeling back, they again answered their com- 
manders' call, but again the automatic rifles of the 
Mongol light infantry poured forth a very tempest of 
bullets, and, breaking, they fell back in confusion. 

From their position on the hill, the commanding 
officers of the national army could see their skirmishers 
falling back all along the line. Limbering up, the 
battery which was attached to the Mounted Infantry 
now attempted to retire, but, in crossing a water-way, 
one of the guns jammed, and, seizing the chance, a 
regiment of Kalmucks charged. 

Determined to protect the gun, and bending over 
their quaint lances with the fierce satisfaction of men 
who know that now they must meet hand-to-hand, 
the Eingers rode at the enemy. There was a thunder 
of opposing hoofs, a glitter of steel, and the hoarse 
cadence of a yell, and then a wild thrusting home of 
lance-heads and hacking of sword-blades, and the 
men who lay under the vines were avenged. Man to 
man, the white race had once more triumphed, and 
the Kalmucks were a broken, flying mass. 

Still, there was no time to delay; already fresh 
bodies of horse were gathering, and the machine-guns 
began to re-open fire almost before their own men 
were behind them ; so, still covering the battery, 
Johnson gave the order to retire. 

From his vantage-ground, Hatten could see the 
whole of the Mongol advance. The scene was so 
suggestive of a panorama he had somewhere witnessed, 
that for a moment he could not realize that the level 
stretches, broken here and there by clumps of timber, 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


the fields of grain fresh-stored, the bright green vine- 
yards, the puffs of white smoke, the glitter of arms, 
and the hurried movements of horse, foot, and artillery, 
were not all parts of some giant battle-picture. 

Leroy, in his plan of attack, had followed as closely 
as possible the lines laid down in the Chinese manual 
of war. Moving behind clouds of skirmishers, his 
main fighting line somewhat resembled a bow, the 
flanks being thrown forward to overlap those of the 
Australian army. On either side rode masses of 
cavalry, supporting the Maxims, while other batteries 
of quick-firing field and machine guns showed in the 
Mongols' centre. 

Surrounded by his staff, the General directed the 
advance in person. The self-constituted criminal of 
last night was gone, and in his stead rode the leader 
of the Mongols. 

With an armed host in front, all his fighting 
instincts rose, and amid the opening rattle of the 
enemy's musketry, Philip Orloff vanished for a time. 
Perfect in discipline, and armed with weapons capable 
of discharging two hundred rounds per minute, the 
Mongols now swept on with a confidence that was 
ominous for the ill-armed militia who lay in their 

Already men were falling in the Australian lines, 
and shells, hurtling through the hot morning air, 
began to fill all the upper world with their shrill, 
implacable cries. 

Someone has said that most men are by nature 
cowards. Be that as it may, the ordeal of fire- 
discipline is a terrible one even for veteran troops, 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


and to the men now undergoing it for the first time 
the tension became every moment more insupportable. 
A shudder went through the lines as the iron hail 
swept over and among the close-packed ranks. Still 
they answered volley with volley, save that their 
discharges, while making all the sound, produced 
little, if any, effect, for the pride of race was still 
strong enough in these green levies to make them 
stand like sheep and be slaughtered, rather than run 
from Chinamen. 

Practically without artillery, for his few obsolete 
Nordenfeldts and muzzle-loading siege-guns were 
useless in the face of Leroy's modem weapons, and 
wretchedly weak in properly-equipped cavalry, Don 
now realized that his position was a desperate one. 

The battle was hardly begun, and already he was 
powerless ; for the enemy, totally unchecked by his 
fire, were now within two thousand yards, and pouring 
showers of death-dealing missiles into his ranks with 
momentarily-increasing precision. 

Turning to his two colleagues, he said : 

' It's madness to wait here and be slaughtered ; the 
men won't hold together for another quarter of an 
hour. We are overmatched. I suggest that we 
retire before the inevitable rout sets in. Hatten can 
cover our retreat.' 

But it was too bitter a pill to swallow — at least, 
just yet. No, they could not consent. Eetreat from 
Chinamen ? Never ! 

' Then, damn it, we must advance !' growled Don ; 
* raw troops must not be kept standing still under a 
fire like this.' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


While the General was speaking, Johnson, sup- 
ported on either side by a trooper, rode up the rise. 
As he passed Hatten, the wounded man gasped : 

' It's warm work, old mate !' 

Silently Dick grasped his chum's limp hand ; then, 
as he disappeared behind the cover of the hill, the 
Colonel turned to his commander, and exclaimed in 
hard, set tones : 

' I've a couple of thousand men, General, sitting 
doing nothing ; give the order, and I'll steady these 
yellow devils !' 

1 No, Hatten,' answered Don ; ' they are too good 
to be butchered ; I have other work for you.' 

Still the leaden storm swept on. 

' Hand-to-hand is our only chance, if we can get 
near enough,' muttered the General, as, taking 
matters into his own hands, he gave the order for a 
general advance. 

As the command ran down the lines, cheer after 
cheer rose through the smoke-clouds, and, putting 
himself at the head of his centre, Don showed the 
way. But now want of discipline and want of proper 
handling alike began to tell their tale. As the 
regiments moved off, their order grew more and more 
broken, until at last a wild, breathless mob, without 
either purpose or cohesion, rushed on to inevitable 

While they had stood shoulder to shoulder, each 
man gained a certain confidence from his neighbour, 
but now the spell was broken ; they were individual 
atoms, their physical contact gone, and consequently 
their moral touch shattered. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Bringing all his artillery to bear, Leroy plied the 
advancing Australians with shot and shell. Then, as 
they still came on, he opened on them with both rifles 
and machine-guns. Meanwhile, aided by their Maxims 
and overwhelming force of cavalry, Dromeroff and 
Eedski had respectively turned the flanks of the 
national army. Surrounded by a cordon of fire, the 
Australian centre wavered. Brave as each man in it 
probably was, it was still, as a whole, nothing better 
than a mob ; and now that a check was given to the 
onward impetus of the dan, the inevitable reaction 
set in, and, despite all Don's efforts, panic began to 
possess the practically leaderless levies, and they 
wavered beneath the carnage. As the shattered 
infantry fell back, the Kalmuck cavalry again charged 
the whole front, determined to change the slaughter 
into a massacre. 

Dick Hatten's opportunity had come. For the last 
hour his brigade had waited for something to do, and 
now the time for cavalry to charge home and sacrifice 
themselves had arrived. 

Putting himself at the head of his squadrons, 
Hatten pointed to the enemy ; then, sitting down in 
his saddle, he rode straight at the advancing brigades. 

On the left, the New South Wales cavalry had 
charged again and again into the vast masses of 
hostile horse, in vain, though heroic, attempts to 
cover the broken infantry. But, mowed down by the 
machine-batteries, they now, almost to a man, lay 
dead on the hoof-trampled ground. On the right, 
too, all was practically over, and, flanked and ill 
supported, the Queensland Mounted Infantry and a 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


battery of artillery were first decimated from safe 
range, and then worn down by repeated and over- 
powering charges of cavalry. 

Only an hour had passed since the outposts had 
begun to fall back, but already ammunition was 
running short, and Major -General Don and his 
colleagues were vainly attempting to rally an army, 
individually as brave as any who ever rushed on to 
victory, but which for want of arms, ammunition, and 
discipline was now little better than a panic-stricken 
horde, outflanked and broken alike on either wing 
and in the centre. 

Putting himself at the head of two regiments of 
regular militia, Don made desperate efforts to re-form 
his centre under cover of Hatten's charge, and, despite 
a raking flanking fire, the Australians again began to 

Placing all the guns he could command on his 
flanks, the General succeeded in checking Dromeroff 
and Eedski, but only at fearful cost ; for, drawing off 
their cavalry, the Mongol commanders now began an 
artillery duel, in which their superior ordnance swept 
away both the Australian gunners and supports with 
terrible precision. 

Knowing that the success of his charge could alone 
avert an absolute butchery, Hatten rode on with a 
grim resolve to break the advancing lines, even if the 
attempt demanded the sacrifice of himself and his 

Marshalling his squadrons as they came on, their 
Colonel hurled them full on the Kalmuck regiments, 
who, with lance-heads glittering in the sun and sword- 

Digitized by VjOOQlC 


blades whirled above their wild, hair-shrouded faces, 
galloped over the dead and the dying. Gathering 
impetus with every stride, the horses of the Eingers 
now shook the death-garnished plain with fierce, 
impatient hoofs. On right and left the dull booming 
of the field-guns, the shrill cries of the Maxims, and 
that dread mingling of sound which rises from all 
battle-fields, filled the smoke-shrouded atmosphere 
with dread thunderings. 

Sitting down on Io as he had sat at Eandwick when 
one fence only lay between him and victory, Hatten 
waved his sabre above his head, and, striking aside a 
Kalmuck lance, dashed into the advancing line. Eough 
and ready, but handling their horses like centaurs, the 
Bushmen followed their leader. 

Skyward rose a dense cloud of dust, through which 
the red flashes of the revolvers shone like innumerable 
fireflies, and out of this dim panoply rang shrill cries, 
fierce curses, and all the twin echoes of triumph and 
despair. In that wild melee horse and horseman sank 
to meet the awful fate which lay in the plunging 
chargers' iron-shod hoofs, and lance-heads that were 
a moment before kissed by the watching sun now 
bore upon their dripping blades hot baptisms of 

For a little, locked in each other's ranks, the hostile 
squadrons fought like very demons, but once again 
the white man at his best, and hand-to-hand with the 
Asiatic, triumphed over odds, and the Kalmuck horse 
wavered, then broke into pieces before the men who, 
fighting for hearths and homes, rode in the wake of 
the gamest horseman in the North. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Correcting his formation as his men raced forward 
on the heels of the disordered enemy, Hatten rushed 
on the guns. For a moment the gunners stood irreso- 
lute, then opened fire, though their own troopers were 
between them and the enemy. 

Shielded by this human buffer, the Eingers were 
almost on the batteries before their fire began to take 
its full effect. With a shout, the guerillas went at 
them, and, bursting through the line of guns, they 
rode down the infantry despite their death-dealing 
rifles, only to find themselves surrounded by the 
reserve cavalry. They did all that men may do ; 
they proved that cavalry is yet good for something 
better than skulking on the outskirts of modern 
battles, and although half their number lay dead or 
wounded within the narrow radius of their gallant 
ride, they showed, as the Prussians showed at Mars- 
la-Tour, that it is not so easy to annihilate cavalry 
even with breech-loaders. Sounding the recall, Dick 
Hatten led what remained of his brigade back over 
the ground and through the foes just riven asunder. 

Again lance-heads and sword-blades met, and men 
went down, and some rode on dead in their saddles ; 
but the enemy's lines were broken, and the fierce 
horsemen of the North burst through them as strong 
men tear weak bonds apart. Meantime, General Don, 
taking advantage of the check to the enemy's centre, 
had almost completed the re-formation of a part of his 
command. But now, just when a prospect of retreat 
opened, the ammunition for the artillery gave out. 
Moving up their machine-guns, Dromeroflf and Bedski 
began to pour a simultaneous and terrific fire on both 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


flanks, and, unable any longer to bear the strain, the 
Australian infantry broke and fled. 

Eealizing that all was over, Hatten, who had just 
burst free from the hostile lines, now extended the 
remnant of his brigade as a cover for the fugitives, 
and so, less than two hours from when they advanced, 
the national army fled from the field of battle, leaving 
their baggage and artillery in the hands of the enemy, 
and with nothing between them and destruction except 
half a brigade of worn-out Eingers, men whose strength 
lay in the fact that they were well led by officers who 
understood them, and that their natural dash had not 
been cramped by artificial conditions alike unsuited to 
their temperaments and surroundings. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 




From the hill lately occupied by the chief of the 
national army, General Leroy now directed the 
pursuit. With the exception of the cavalry who had 
borne the brunt of Hatten's charge, and the columns 
which had turned the Australian flanks, the Mongols 
had suffered little loss, for their General had strictly 
adhered to his original plan, and his infantry had 
practically never come face to face with the enemy. 

The Australians, on the other hand, had suffered 
heavily. Almost from the first shot they had been 
exposed to his long-range artillery and rifle fire, 
and during their gallant but futile advance they had 
been swept away in files before the discharges of his 
machine-guns and automatic rifles. With their fight- 
ing-line broken, all hope of re-formation was at an 
end, for the panic-stricken centre had become inex- 
tricably mixed up with the reserves, and now the 
whole of the national army, with the exception of 
the remnants of the Mounted Infantry and Hatten's 
brigade, were merely a disorganized mob. 

Aided by the splendid heroism of his cavalry and 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Mounted Infantry, Don, who, now that the day was 
lost, was tacitly left with a free hand, might yet have 
turned the rout into a retreat but for the incapacity of 
some of his officers. Never safe when out of earshot 
of their drill-instructors, these men now provided a 
grim object-lesson of the future by making the con- 
fusion worse confounded. 

'Each man for himself!' was the motto which 
became every moment more in evidence, as, realizing 
the utter inability of their leaders and the alarming 
nearness of the enemy's fire, the whole of the infantry 
melted away in search of more than doubtful safety. 
Eallying all the horsemen still left, Hatten continued 
to show a front to the Mongols, and, weakened as his 
brigade was, they still by repeated charges checked 
the hostile advance. 

At last, extricating himself from the mass of fugi- 
tives, General Don rode up to the Colonel of the 
Eingers. Covered with battle-dust, the latter saluted 
his chief with mournful respect, for however much his 
folly in underrating the foe had cost, Hatten felt a 
soldier's admiration for the gallant attempt at repara- 
tion made by his commander. 

'We can do nothing with these,' exclaimed Don, 
pointing after the flying infantry. ' Their utter dis- 
persion is their best chance.' 

' But, sir,' retorted Hatten stoutly, ' I must cover 
the poor devils while I have a man.' 

' At their present rate of extension it will be im- 
possible,' replied Don, adding bitterly, 'Not that I 
blame them. My one duty is to save my best men, 
not to allow them to be annihilated.' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


' Then what can I do V 

i Eetire, and save your men for another day. This 
one is lost beyond all hope of being retrieved.' 

Daring the time Hatten had been holding the 
enemy in check, the flying infantry had again reached 
the position from which they had advanced to the 
attack. There the horses on which most of them had 
ridden during the forward march were picketed. 

In the distance the Colonel could now see a blurred 
picture of stampeding horses, from which body after 
body of .fugitives began to detach themselves, and as 
he watched them scatter over the plains, he had to 
admit that his chief was right, little as he relished 
leaving the field in the hands of the Mongols. Once 
more he looked towards the enemy, now massing as 
if determined to annihilate his feeble squadrons by 
sheer force of numbers. Then, as the batteries 
belched forth from their new position a dread salute, 
Dick Hatten at last gave the word, and, followed by 
all that were left of his brigade, galloped from the 

With the retreat of the Eingers all semblance of 
offensive opposition to the Mongol advance practically 
ceased. Still, while realizing that the further sacrifice 
of life was not only suicidal but useless, Hatten, in 
withdrawing his brigade, was careful to show a firm 
front to the hordes of Kalmuck horse who now began 
to hang on the outskirts of the routed army. 

Awed by the determined face maintained by the 
Eingers and the fragments of the Mounted Infantry 
and Southern Cavalry, the Kalmucks as a whole 
devoted themselves to the pursuit of the scattered 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


bodies of men who now rode with mad haste from the 
field. Sabre -cut and lance -thrust had already 
accounted for the unfortunate wretches who had 
failed to secure mounts, and now the fierce nomads, 
fired with insatiable lust for blood, raced in the wake 
of the men who, lying on their horses' necks, sought 
to shun the keen spear-thrusts of their pursuers. 
Recognising the cohesion still maintained by Hatten's 
troopers, Eedski, to whom Leroy had entrusted the 
direction of the pursuit, directed the full force of a 
personal attack on them ; for, however little his men 
might relish the attempt, the Russian was determined 
not to let so dangerous a nucleus escape. 

Afraid to ' burst ' his already overworked horses, 
Hatten made no special effort to escape the Kalmucks 
who now thundered in his rear ; keeping just enough 
speed up to induce the best mounted of their squadrons 
to outpace the others, Dick held on his course until 
he reached the top of a low, sloping rise. Then, 
suddenly halting, he wheeled about and charged down 
the incline straight into the foremost squadron. 

Already cowed by the Ringers' desperate heroism, 
the savage irregulars reeled before their onslaught, 
awe- compelling in its stern purpose, and girded with 
additional force through the falling ground. Vainly 
Redski, both with sabre and curses, strove to hold his 
command together; he was swept away by his own 
men, who now in their wild dismay crashed into and 
through the squadrons they had left behind in their 
onward rush. 

Riding down the disordered enemy, Hatten now 
wheeled to the right-about, and, safe from immediate 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


pursuit, soon placed some ranges between himself and 
the Mongols. 

Calling a halt, Dick, at General Don's request, 
provided him with an escort, and after arranging for 
an immediate attempt at remobilization, the old officer 
rode away towards the telegraph-line. 

Appointing a rendezvous, Hatten now split up the 
remainder of his command, ordering each squadron 
to make for the place of meeting by different routes. 

Sitting on his horse, he told his men what he 
thought of them in a few manly words, and then, 
waiting until they had all disappeared in the timber, 
he rode away in company with about twenty troopers. 

For the present all attempt to check the Mongol 
advance was worse than foolish, and by thus dividing 
his men Dick made the work of pursuit more com- 
plicated, and that of obtaining supplies less difficult. 
Further, he hoped that each body of Eingers would 
be able to pick up stragglers to augment the new 
force to be raised for the defence of the capital. With 
this object, General Don had already started to get in 
touch with the telegraph - lines, and Hatten had 
arranged with his commander to push on by forced 
marches to Toowoomba, gathering all the men avail- 
able en route. Here Don was to meet him, and 
together they were to attempt a new system — not 
certainly of attack, but of stubborn resistance. 

Biding hard, and by tracks only known to one or 
two of his troopers, Hatten's party, though only 
actually travelling about forty miles, put at least 
sixty between themselves and the Kalmucks before 
nightfall. During the march no one said much. Few 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


men care to talk of their failures, least of all when 
they are fresh upon them ; fewer still can cast aside 
the memory of a lost illusion without painful effort. 
So these battle-smirched troopers rode on mostly in 
grim silence, slowly digesting the disagreeable fact 
that even Chinamen, armed with machine-guns and 
automatic rifles, are more than a match for Aus- 
tralians without either. 

At a water-hole surrounded by acacias they camped 
for a few hours. Safe from immediate danger, saddles 
were pulled off, and sweat-stained backs cooled with 
water dipped out of the hole with their hats. Then, 
hobbling the horses with their stirrup-leathers, they 
let them go, keeping one picketed in case of accidents. 
Treating with Bushman-like indifference the legend 
that acacia-roots are poisonous, the men supped on a 
drink apiece, and then, lighting their pipes, stretched 
themselves on the grass. Under the soothing in- 
fluence of the weed they began to drawl out their 
experiences and opinions with a strange mixture of 
shrewdness and simplicity, now and again relieved by 
quaint touches of dry, unconscious humour. 

For a time Hatten took part in the discussion, for 
he always was careful to keep the fact in evidence 
that he was their comrade as well as their leader. 
Then, remarking that he would go and turn the horses, 
he strolled towards the head of the gully for a quiet 
' think.' 

At the result of the battle he was in no way sur- 
prised, bitterly as his pride resented the Mongol 
thrashing. As to the future, Dick realized that 
everything depended on the rallying powers of his 


Digitized by VjOOQIC 


countrymen. Not only armies, but also arms and 
ammunition, must now be evolved from local resources, 
if the enemy were to be seriously resisted. The battle 
just lost had proved that the raw material was forth- 
coming. As to the question of arms and powder, 
Hatten, remembering the American example, took 
heart of grace, and at last, summing up the situation, 
he actually found himself considerably more hopeful 
than he had been before the action began. Absolute 
as the rout was, it had cleared away many foolish 
illusions, and exposed weaknesses which might now 
be repaired; for defeat often teaches more valuable 
lessons than victory. The question as to whether 
the leaders would profit by the past had certainly to 
be faced, but this gave Dick little uneasiness, for he 
already reckoned that the men themselves would see 
that a complete system of reconstruction was carried 
out in the ranks of their officers. Still, for all his 
hopefulness, Dick Hatten had never felt more per- 
sonal wretchedness. For the soldier there were still 
vast possibilities, but for the man all seemed over. 
But a few weeks ago the woman he loved had been 
done to death amid surroundings the thought of 
which made his hands clench with impotent rage and 
despair, and now the chum of years — the single- 
hearted, gallant comrade who had raced beside him 
on far-off plains at the tail of piker and outlaw, and 
fought at his right hand against the Kalmuck hordes 
— was gone out of his life as well. For, riding back 
from his last desperate effort to check the Mongol 
advance, Hatten had sought in vain for Ted Johnson. 
He had seen him led to where, under cover of the 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


hill, the medical staff had rigged up a field-hospital, 
but on his return the ambulance had disappeared. 
Among the dead and dying, over whom a flanking 
fire was already playing, Dick failed to recognise his 
mate, and at last, as a matter of duty, he had to 
abandon his search. Since then nothing had been 
heard or seen of the wounded man, and, knowing the 
barbarous customs of the victors, Hatten held no hope 
of ever seeing his friend again. 

For a little he stood gazing down the gully on the 
resting forms of his troopers and the ungainly lurches 
of the hobbled horses, his heart full of a dull, im- 
placable desire to kill. Then arose the thought of 
the winsome girl waiting in Brisbane for the lover 
who could never come to gladden her vigil more, and 
lifting his hand, the Colonel of the Ringers drew the 
back of it across his eyes half impatiently as he walked 
to the water-hole. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

[ 404 ] 



While Leroy, surrounded by orderlies and accom- 
panied by Dromeroff and other staff - officers, was 
watching the pursuit of the Australians, a cloud of 
dust, rising from the direction of Charleville, caught 
the sharp eyes of a Kalmuck colonel. 

Turning his head at the officer's exclamation, Leroy 
saw lance-blades glittering above the heads of the 
horsemen, and, with a gesture of contempt, remarked: 
' Doubtless, gentlemen, his Highness Commissioner 

Presently the leading files of the escort reached the 
foot of the rise, and then the group of officers could 
see that the General was right, for the open carriage 
which now dashed up the slope contained Count 
Zenski and Commissioner Wang, the latter magni- 
ficent in his costume of a military mandarin. 

Biding forward, the staff saluted; but appearing 
not to notice the arrival, Leroy continued to view the 
operations through his glasses. 

The General was making a rapid mental calcula- 
tion ; he felt that about him glowed all the prestige 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


of a splendid victory, and that the contrast between 
himself and this effeminate Chinaman could never be 
more strongly marked in the eyes of the men around 
than now. All the surroundings urged on his long- 
cherished desire to, by one bold stroke, reign alone. 
Insensibly his hand fell on the stock of his revolver, 
and he half wheeled his horse just in time to see 
Dromeroff salute his colleague with marked deference. 
For a moment he hesitated, and as he did Zenski 
shot a glance full of warning into his face. Dropping 
his hand to his side, Leroy decided to wait for a more 
convenient season, and riding forward, he received 
the Chinaman's congratulations with an impassive 
politeness which equalled that of the Commissioner 

Leaving his carriage, Wang, with an Asiatic official's 
inherent love of cruelty, walked down the slope to 
where the ground presented all the dread character- 
istics of a shambles. Here the ambulance had been 
stationed, and here one of the militia regiments had 
made a desperate stand in attempting to defend the 
wounded. Exposed to a raking flanking fire, the loss 
had been terrific before those gallant fellows melted 
away, and now their bodies, horribly distorted and 
mutilated with the Maxim explosive bullets, lay 
literally in heaps on the dark, clotted ground. As 
the Commissioner stood watching with critical interest 
the agonized features of a poor wretch who had been 
stabbed as he lay by some of the pursuing cavalry, 
he was joined by Dromeroff. 

'Pardieu/ these gentlemen are worth watching,' 
muttered Zenski to Leroy. And resting his hand on 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


the General's horse's mane, he moved after the 

' Our artillery has been most effective, mon Colonel,' 
remarked Wang in French, glancing over the grue- 
some heap. Then noticing a leg quiver which stuck 
out from under another man's body, the Chinaman 
gave it a contemptuous kick, saying : * One devil is 
still alive ; run your sword through this dead gaiUard 
and you will reach him.' 

' Pardon, your Highness, ' began Dromeroff haughtily, 
when a sudden upheaval made both men step back. 

Eising out of the blood-soaked bodies, a figure with 
hair and moustache matted* and face streaked with 
the grime of battle, staggered towards the pair. 
Through his open shirt a bandage, covered with dark- 
caked fluid, showed in relief against the skin ; but' 
despite his wound and the long agony of his late 
position, his face exhibited "more of anger than of 

Making straight for Commissioner Wang, the 
apparition shouted : ' Murder me, would you, you 

d Chinaman!' as he spoke shooting his left 

fist straight into the astonished Celestial's face. 

Before the well-directed blow Wang fell like a log ; 
but q.s he did so half a dozen swords were out of their 
scabbards and pointed at the assailant, who stood 
looking \vith grim satisfaction at the prostrate China- 

' Ted Johnson !' Zenski had gasped as he heard the 
Australian's voice, and in an instant Leroy recognised 
the name as that of Heather's friend. 

' Kill him !' hissed. Wang from the ground, and 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


with one accord the sabres flashed upwards ; but they 
never fell, for a voice no man among them had the 
hardihood to disobey thundered out : 

As the swords dropped, Leroy added to one of his 

' Take the prisoner to Charleville; I hold you 
answerable for his safety.' Then, with marked 
politeness: 'Gentlemen, escort his Highness to his 
carriage ; his life is too valuable to be risked among 
such scenes.' 

No sign on the impassive face told what Wang 
really thought as he thanked his colleague for his 
consideration. But Zenski felt that now more than 
ever one of these two men must kill the other. 

Not anxious to court recognition, at any rate for the 
present, Zenski had turned away after his exclama- 
tion. At first foreseeing fresh complications, he re- 
gretted having made it ; but now Johnson's presence 
at Charleville suggested such possibilities to the Count 
that he blessed the impulse that had unwittingly 
saved Ted's life. 

In the man who had stood beside Wang Johnson 
naturally failed to recognise the clean-shaven rival of 
the Band wick Winter Meeting; nor did Dromeroff 
dream of connecting the Commissioner's assailant 
with the station manager with whose fiancee he had 
flirted in the saloon of the Barcoo. To Johnson the 
whole affair was like a dream, for though he could 
understand their actions, the conversation of his 
captors, being in French, was wholly unintelligible. 

Just as the surgeon had bound up his wound, the 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


position got too hot for the ambulance corps, and 
almost immediately after Johnson found himself half 
buried under the bodies of the men who were falling 
around him. How long he had lain insensible under 
this ghastly cover he did not know. 

When he regained consciousness he heard voices 
near him, and then Wang's kick woke him up 
thoroughly. From under the arm of the corpse 
which lay above him Ted now caught sight of his 
assailant, and from the Chinaman's gestures and 
expression he guessed at the substance of his words 
to Dromeroff. 

Determined not to wait to be stuck like a pig, Ted 
made a supreme effort to get free, and to his surprise 
found that his strength had returned — at any rate, 
sufficiently for his purpose. 

Once up, he went straight for his man, fully ex- 
pecting to be cut down, but determined to get one 
good left-hander in first. Then someone called his 
name, and someone else saved his life ; and now Ted 
found himself in the centre of a troop of Kalmucks 
riding straight for Charleville. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

[ 409 ] 



Led by Dromeroff, the Mongol columns resumed their 
march on Brisbane the day after the battle. Had 
the defeat been less than a rout, the Commander-in- 
Chief would have been the last man to leave his 
army. As it was, however, he as a soldier realized 
that the enemy was past all possibility of immediate 
resistance, and so, as a matter both of duty and 
inclination, he returned to Charleville. 

Bringing all his skill to bear on the matters of its 
defences, Major Hoffman had converted the Bush 
town into a formidable fortress, and here, at the 
headquarters of Leroy, Major Johnson was now being 
examined by the General, in the presence of Wang, 
Hoffman, and such staff-officers as happened to be in 
the town. 

To Heather Leroy had pledged himself to save the 
Australian ; still, under the circumstances, he realized 
that the present function was unavoidable, for while 
his colleague retained his position he was bound, as 
a matter of example and discipline, to respect it. 

Determined to give no hint that might be used 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


against his countrymen, Johnson stolidly refused to 
answer every question which in any way bore on the 
national portion of defence. 

At first the purity of Leroy's English filled John- 
son with a suspicion that his examiner was one of 
his own race; but when he observed that his ques- 
tioner spoke with equal ease in other languages, Ted 
remembered having heard of the Russians' skill as 
linguists, and so thought no more about it. In 
common with most educated Chinamen, Wang could 
both understand and speak English ; and now, veil- 
ing his personal grudge under the plea of the general 
safety, he expressed his opinion that the prisoner, 
being useless as a means of gaining information, 
must be shot, to prevent the possibility of his carry- 
ing any away in the event of his escape. Still 
treating his colleague with all respect, Leroy re- 
torted that, as the military head, he considered the 
Australian more valuable alive than dead — at any 
rate, for the present — adding that he would probably 
find means to make him speak. 

While gratified by the grim possibilities contained 
in the General's last words, Wang still urged his 
immediate execution; but, rising, Leroy remarked, 
* I will be answerable alike for his safety and punish- 
ment,' and, as a sign that the examination was at 
an end, ordered the guard to remove the prisoner. 

While Johnson was under examination, Count 
Zenski had taken the opportunity of calling on 
Heather Cameron. After careful weighing, the old 
diplomat had decided to try and utilize Johnson as 
a means of disposing of the chief obstacle to his 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


present plans and future hopes; and so, with this 
end in view, he now approached the woman of Whom 
he wished to rid himself. 

The room in which the Count found himself was 
more than semi-Eastern in its rich, almost barbaric, 
hangings and grotesquely-carved belongings ; but the 
suggestion of heaviness was removed by the masses 
of flowers which rose, above green under-growths of 
cunningly-set shrubs, from the polished surface of a 
floor littered here and there with delicately- woven mats. 

Here, guarded by men of Leroy's own regiment, 
and waited on by women of her own race, Heather 
had lived since her arrival in Charleville. Deter- 
mined to do honour to the woman he loved, Leroy 
had taxed all his resources in providing a regal 
temple for his idol ; but, striking as all this magnifi- 
cence was, Heather had accepted it without comment, 
and now lived among it without ever noting that it 
existed. The mind only takes heed of the surround- 
ings when graver issues are vanishing from the 
mental vision. In cases such as Heather's, the 
contemplation of brain-created pictures leaves scant 
room for the recognition of mere externals. 

The woman who rose to receive the Count showed 
little evidence in face or form of the sorrow which 
now was always her companion. Constitutionally 
perfect, her body still refused to reproduce the agony 
of its mental part ; and so, as Zenski bowed over the 
cool, firm hand, he feared, because he saw no physical 
evidence to the contrary, that Heather was learning 
to become content. 

Deeply as she resented the old Bussian's treachery, 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Heather received him with calm politeness ; for, being 
really anxious to see her out of reach of Orloff, the 
Count had taken the trouble to throw himself in her 
way lately, and gradually he had brought the girl to 
believe that, despite his betrayal of her country, he 
really wished for her escape. 

This she now ardently desired ; for the more she 
realized her love for Orloff, the more abhorrent 
became the logical sequence of this passion. Death 
or escape were the two alternatives which now hourly 
presented themselves before her ; not because she had 
any fear that Orloff would ever by actual deed take from 
her the position of a free agent, but because she had 
realized unwittingly the great truth, so little reckoned 
with by human beings, that love is paramount when 
backed up by the inexorable law of natural affinity. 

Ignorant of the fundamental principle, she knew 
that this deathless desire was mightier than all the 
resisting powers of her being, and that sooner or 
later it must hurry her into a union which under 
other circumstances would be a consummation holy 
in its natural fitness, but which in the light of late 
events could only cover her with a mantle of self- 
contempt and shame so black that she must lose 
herself for ever in its folds. 

Self-destruction was abhorrent to her strong sense 
of duty, and utterly opposed to the clear, simple faith 
which adverse storms had only beat against to 
strengthen; so in her extremity she turned to the 
prospect of escape as the one means given by her 
Creator for salvation from herself. 

Zenski she had brought herself to look on as the 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


instrument; and so, now that he had come, she 
frankly let him see that his presence was in a certain 
sense welcome. 

In the conversation which followed, the old diplomat 
soon discovered that Heather, despite his first im- 
pression, was quite as eager to go as even he could 
wish. Once only doubt of her sincerity crept back 
into his suspicious mind. Absolutely unselfish, and 
at all times holding it as part of her duty to sacrifice 
herself for others, Heather suddenly asked the Count 
if he thought she was justified in leaving a post 
where, through her influence, she was able to save, 
or at least alleviate the lot of many of her country- 
men who fell into the hands of the Mongols. The 
question, though addressed to Zenski, was really one 
put to herself ; but, taking it in its literal sense, the 
Eussian inwardly placed it to the credit of woman's 
duplicity. Outwardly, however, his manner was one 
of respectful admiration, as he explained that General 
Leroy held her in such esteem that he felt sure the 
result of her influence would be paramount with him 
after her departure; while, on the other hand, did 
she remain, he pointed out as delicately as possible 
the terrible complications which might arise, only 
to culminate in worse than death for her, and the 
handing over of the Mongols to a leader whose lust 
for blood was now hardly held in check by their 
present commander. 

Knowing how much truth lay behind her com- 
panion's reasoning, Heather soon accepted it, and 
when Zenski made his adieus, it was with the under- 
standing that she was to do all in her power to induce 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Leroy to let her go, and failing this, that Zenski was 
to attempt to bring about her escape with Johnson 
into the Australian lines. 

As the Count passed the building where Johnson's 
examination had taken place, Leroy came out. 

* Where away, mon Giniral V queried Zenski. 
' Where you will,' replied the other. 

* Then come and have one cigar with me,' suggested 
the Count, slipping his arm into that of his companion. 

As they walked towards Zenski's quarters, neither 
man spoke. Leroy was busy thinking out the question 
of his prisoner's escape, which, autocrat as he was, 
could only be safely effected by the exercise of con- 
siderable finesse on his part. The Count was also 
troubled about an escape, but more so still with 
regard to how best to handle the man who walked 
beside him. Once in his room, Zenski gave orders 
that he was not to be disturbed ; then he settled his 
friend in a chair, only a trifle less comfortable than 
his own, and pushed a cigar-box towards him. A 
thorough believer in the thawing influence of tobacco, 
the Count sat back and said never a word, and so 
silence reigned between these two until the ash on 
Leroy's cigar was half an inch long, and Zenski had 
counted at least fifty perfect rings float upwards from 
under the grizzled cover of his own moustache. 
Watching his companion keenly, the old Eussian 
judged that the weed had done its work, and that 
Leroy was prepared to be in some sort confidential. 
This being the case, he decided to save him the 
embarrassment of breaking the long silence, and so 
he asked, with a show of considerable interest : 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


1 What have you decided to do with Monsieur 
Johnson ?' 

' Send him back into the Australian lines,' replied 

' But how, man ami ? In the first place, where are 
their lines ? For the present, at least, they have no 
existence. Then what of Commissioner Wang? 
Will it be politic by one act both to balk his revenge 
and to give him such a lever? Doubtless Major 
Johnson knows nothing that can harm us ; still, he is 
an enemy, and his surrender to his friends may be 
made much of by a man such as your colleague.' 

' I have realized all you say/ replied Leroy im- 
patiently, 'and personally I would hold him as a 
hostage — at any rate, for the present. But I have 
promised that he shall be removed from all danger of 
Wang's vengeance at once, and, at all risks, I must 
keep my word in this matter.' 

' Bah ! what can Wang do, after all ?' 
' Nothing while I am here, but you forget I go 
North to-morrow, and during my absence many 
things may happen.' 

While his companion was speaking, the same 
thought struck Zenski; he felt that, if he were 
prepared to risk it, many things might be accom- 
plished during the week that must elapse before the 
General's inspection was over. But even as the vague 
possibility flashed through his mind, its almost certain 
annihilation rose before him. Determined to avoid all 
self-deceit, no matter how alluring, he now remarked : 
* Then, shall I have the honour of watching over 
Miss Cameron and her friend during your absence ?' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


'Miss Cameron goes with me/ Leroy answered 
coldly. * Not that I doubt your friendship, Zenski,' 
he added, misjudging the look on the other's face ; 
' and in proof of it, I want you to help me in getting 
Johnson away ; perhaps it can be best managed while 
I am up North.' 

Taking advantage of his companion's mood, Zenski 
now, with diplomatic skill, again attempted to point 
out the madness of his present relations with Heather 
Cameron. He showed that Leroy's personal know- 
ledge of her purity was not enough, and that, in 
point of fact, he was condemning her to an equivocal 
position for the sake of his own selfish passion. To 
the men who surrounded him, his action could bear 
but one interpretation ; and, as Zenski further pointed 
out, both Leroy's past treatment of her and his 
present intention of taking her with him pointed to a 
relationship between them alike dishonouring to her 
and ruinous regarded as an example for the men he 
was trying to wean from their habits of rapine and 
lust. Urged on alike by self-interest and a certain 
quaint personal fondness for his one-time proteg^, the 
Count played in turn on all the strings of human 
passion in his attempts to win Orloff back to the 
shrine of ambition. At last, because of his love for 
the woman, Philip wavered. Trained to note and 
seize every chance in a battle such as this, Zenski 
suddenly placed an alternative before him. Leaning 
forward, he looked into his companion's eyes, and 

' If you love this woman, you must either make 
her your wife or give her her liberty.' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


In suggesting that Philip should niarry Heather, 
Zenski knew he was safe. Though, even if he did do 
so, it would have suited the Eussian better than the 
existing state of things. In Orloffs eyes, however, 
the suggestion gained a peculiar significance from the 
fact of its contradiction to Zenski' s long-expressed 
opinion that Heather's absence was the only sure 
guarantee for future safety and success. Now that 
the Count was willing that she should remain under 
conditions which even he had to admit were not only 
reasonable, but absolutely essential to the preservation 
of her good name, Leroy discussed the question calmly, 
and at last yielded so far as to promise to place the 
position before Heather during his journey North. 

'You have decided well, Philip,' said Zenski, ' and 
if you hold to your determination, you may yet make 
me a convert to this most unreasonable deity called 

' For the sake of it I can do much. God knows I 
have already done more than He may forgive,' retorted 
Leroy ; * but in this matter of letting her go I can 
only put my will against all the desire of my being.' 

' Be guided by her in this matter,' retorted Zenski. 

Then, warned by the sudden despair which began 
to show itself in Orloffs eyes, he dropped the subject, 
more than content with having moved the man 
sufficiently to bring it there. 

If Heather was to be taken North, Zenski at once 
decided that it would be best for Johnson to go also. 
It seemed to him that Ted would be a constant spur 
to the girl's inclination ; and, further, that if by some 
happy chance Orloff did bring himself to let her go, 


Digitized by VjOOQIC 


the presence of Johnson would all the more readily 
suggest some practical means of setting her free. 

Even if Orloff, as was most probable, refused to 
sanction her escape, Zenski felt that with Jphnson at 
hand he might himself devise a means, away from 
the strict espionage of Gharleville, for getting both of 
them off without even Leroy's knowledge. 

With this part of his scheme the Count had little 
trouble, for Leroy admitted, almost without comment, 
all he put forward in its favour. The fact that 
Johnson would be safer with the General than if left 
in Charleville was undoubted, and, as Zenski said, 
the facilities both for getting him away quietly and 
letting it appear that he had suffered due punishment 
for his crime would be all greatly increased by re- 
moving him up North. 

With the decision as to Johnson's destination 
settled, conversation began to flag, and now Leroy 
wished of all things to be alone, so, tossing his cigar- 
butt into the fireplace, he rose. Satisfied with his 
night's work, Zenski made no effort to detain his 
visitor, for he, too, desired for the next hour or so 
no better companionship than his own. 

Nodding his head, Leroy passed out into the hall, 
and as the door closed on him, Zenski lit a fresh 
cigar, and, watching the white ash lengthen, he lazily 
wondered for what strange reasons men make mis- 
tresses of creatures created for, and possessing all the 
attributes of, slaves. 

* Faithful slaves once in a way, perhaps,' murmured 
the Count, as a compliment to Heather ; ' but, mem 
Dieu ! slaves for all that.' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

[ 419 ] 



Leaving Charleville the day after his conversation 
with Count Zenski, the Mongol leader travelled direct 
to Point Parker, which for the time became his head- 
quarters. Here, in the Mitylene Palace, both Heather 
and Johnson were now located. 

The firm of Spero, Aloysius and Co. still ruled the 
commercial world of Point Parker, now, however, by 
reason of the risks attending both the export and 
import trade, shrunk to less than half its former 
importance. For all that, the Levantine firm still 
did an immense business as army contractors for 
all sorts of warlike supplies, and though both Spero 
andBourouskie had sunk for ever below the political 
horizon, they still in their natural sphere as com- 
mercial hucksters reaped a rich harvest. 

Naturally anxious to retain the favour of the Com- 
mander-in-Chief, Spero had at once placed his house 
at his disposal. For Heather's sake the offer was 
accepted, and, placing Zenski in charge, the General 
had for the past few days been inspecting the various 
columns left to hold the conquered North. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Leroy's desire to throw up the command of the 
Mongols, which had approached perilously close to a 
resolve before the battle of Charleville, had since his 
victory grown less keen, as, after his conversation 
with Zenski, he had begun to realize more clearly 
than ever the impracticability of his present position 
with Heather. The day of his arrival at Point Parker 
he had fulfilled his promise to the Count, and from 
the lips of the woman he loved had heard his sentence, 
and, bitterest stab of all, she had admitted her love, 
while sadly insisting on its impossibility as regarded 
any union with him. 

Without this woman, for whom he had sinned so 
much, the thought of inaction became intolerable; 
and so when at last he promised to let her go, he 
stepped from the presence of Love again into the 
arms of Ambition. Not because he loved this wanton 
mistress, Ambition — he hated her; but because all 
things were as nothing now, and the harsh music 
of her voice rang out in unison with his proud 

From Heather, Zenski had heard of Leroy's decision, 
and in the General's present actions he recognised a 
return to his old allegiance ; still, as a wise man, he 
said nothing. 

Determined, so soon as he had fulfilled his promise 
to Heather, to carry on aggressive operations on a 
larger scale than ever, Leroy now began the work of 
concentrating every man who could be spared from 
the North at Charleville. Daily fresh reinforcements 
were expected from China, and with part of them the 
Mongol commander now intended to seriously attack 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Brisbane from the sea, thus placing the capital between 
two fires. The absence of English men-of-war held 
out every prospect of success, not only for such an 
expedition, but for similar attacks later on all the 
Australian capitals ; and recognising that nothing was 
to be gained, and perhaps much, lost by delay, Leroy 
determined to lose no more time in carrying his plans 
to their logical conclusion. 

Aware that in leaving his present base he must be 
prepared to subject his commissariat train to an acute 
strain, the Commander-in-Chief further busied him- 
self in arranging for the forwarding to Charleville of 
a constant supply of warlike stores and provisions. 
Beyond the. Warrego he was prepared to march 
through a country stripped of all vestige of vegetable 
and animal life ; but holding, as he did, the immense 
food-supplies of the North at his disposal, this 
prospect troubled him not at all. A week after his 
arrival in Point Parker everything was in train for 
the combined attack, and now the time had arrived 
when he must carry out his promise and part with 
Heather, or break his word and carry her back a 
prisoner to Charleville. Since that interview in which 
Heather had wrung from him her liberty, Leroy had 
not again approached her. Strong as he knew him- 
self to be, he yet dared not risk the all-powerful desire 
which he knew must arise in her presence, and so on 
his return he made all the arrangements for her 
departure without ever even mentioning her name. 

His plan for her escape was simple enough, for the 
reason that no man about him dared question his 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Personally he would have wished to send her to 
some country safe from his Mongol hordes, but 
Heather thought otherwise, and, in obedience to her 
entreaties, she was to be landed near Sydney. Ted 
Johnson was really responsible for her determination 
in favour of the Southern capital, as he had told her 
during the journey North that Edith and Mrs. Enson 
were to go South in the event of Brisbane being 
threatened. The Hi Lung, an obsolete turret cruiser, 
now propelled by electricity, happened to be lying at 
Point Parker on Leroy's arrival, and as her captain 
was a man devoted to him, he decided to entrust the 
two fugitives to his care. 

Now that he had decided to devote himself to 
ambition, the question of how his colleague would 
regard the escape of Johnson (if he ever heard about 
it) did not trouble Leroy one whit. Man to man, he 
recognised that he was more than a match for the 
Chinaman, and with Zenski at his back, and un- 
trammelled by the presence of Heather, he felt that 
the future, if lost for Philip Orloff, was still pregnant 
with possibilities for General Leroy. But now, when 
everything was ready for Heather's departure, the 
strong man's heart rebelled, and, in opposition to all 
his instincts as a soldier, he made a compromise with 
the rebel instead of crushing it. He suddenly deter- 
mined to visit the defences on Thursday Island before 
going South, and at the last moment announced to 
Zenski his intention of going so far in the Hi Lung. 
Eecognising the possible failure of all his plans in 
this determination, the Count still felt powerless to 
oppose it in any way, for Leroy was not a man to be 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


turned from his purpose by any argument such as he 
could bring to bear. So, inwardly cursing the folly 
of his leader, the old Bussian had to silently accept 
the assurance that he would return by Jansen's yacht. 

In the state-room of the Hi Lung Heather parted 
from the old diplomat with a feeling so near akin to 
regret that she was conscious of a vague feeling of 
self-condemnation. His whole life, so far as she had 
known it, had been a lie unsoftened by one cloud of 
remorse, and still, now that she was parting from him 
for ever, sorrow rather than righteous contempt and 
loathing filled her eyes with tears. There was a bond 
between these two — strong and pure where it issued 
from the noble, unselfish woman's heart, weak and 
corroded by self-interest where it clung to the sin- 
cased organ of the old man. They both after their 
own fashion regarded Philip Orloff more than any 
other human being. Bending over Heather's hand, 
Count Zenski listened to her words of farewell, and 
then, lifting the long white fingers to his lips, he 
kissed them with a gesture in which reluctance at 
having to part was mingled with a certain suspicion 
of self-shame. As he walked to the landing-stage, 
Johnson met him, but the effect of the scene below 
had already gone, and, nodding, he said with a sneer : 

' Bon voyage, mon ami ! Present my compliments 
to Madame Enson, and express my regrets that her 
trousseau should grow old-fashioned.' 

'I'll see you to the devil first, you infernal cad!' 
retorted Johnson wrathf ully. 

'Till then adieu, mon brave/ 1 replied Zenski, look- 
ing back from the steps with a cynical grin. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Now, so far as his movements were concerned, a 
perfectly free agent, Ted stayed on deck watching 
Point Parker sink swiftly into the embrace of the 
waves. Soon it was gone, and as he stood looking 
towards the place where it had been, the night began 
to steal softly out of the East. 

To the practical Bushman the events of the last 
few days had in them more of the unreality of dreams 
than aught of solid fact, and even now Ted had to 
rouse himself every now and then to realize that 
he was thoroughly awake. Personally, he had every 
reason to congratulate himself, and to thank Heaven 
that Heather, instead of finding a horrible death, 
had chanced on so considerate a captor as the 
Mongol leader. How this had all come about, and 
who this man really was, were alike mysteries to 
Johnson. At Orloffs request, Heather had not dis- 
closed his real personality, and so Ted had to be 
content with the information that he was a man she 
had first met when travelling on the Continent. 

For all that, Johnson had vague suspicions as to 
Leroy's identity, and the more he thought them out 
the less he was satisfied. Still less was he at rest 
as to his chum's chances with Heather should they 
ever meet again. In the few talks they had had, 
Hatten's name never failed for a place on the girl's 
lips ; but while she never grew weary of speaking of 
his courage and loyal friendship, even Ted coiild see 
that love was as far from her thoughts as ever. 

Now with the deepening shadows came other fancies 
so warm and full of tender imaginings that all else 
stepped back into the night ; and, looking out on the 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


silver streak that coiled and glittered amid the gloom 
astern, Ted realized that he was homeward bound, 
and so fell a-thinking of dark eyes set in skin of 
snow, and coils of blue-black hair where blood-red 
roses seemed to nestle lovingly. 

Beneath his feet who dreamt of Love's sweet 
comedy, the tragedy of passion occupied the stage. 

In the state-room Heather Cameron sat, clothed 
in a robe of scarlet, and crowned with a coronal of 
golden coils. From the dead whiteness of her face 
her eyes looked down with infinite pity on the man 
who knelt at her feet. The dress she wore was one 
that he had given ; the jewels which lay beside her 
were the gems he had showered upon her, but which 
she had never worn. Just now she had asked him 
to take them back, and at this most natural request 
his strength had forsaken him, and now on his knees 
before her he exclaimed, with all the bitterness of a 
last despair : 

' I will not let you go !' 

Softly, as one that soothes a child, she bade the 
man remember his promise; and then, as he made 
no sign, but still knelt there, looking with hungry 
longings into her eyes, she spoke in a whisper, as one 
who recalls a holy memory, of the days when first he 
sought to read Love's book to her. But still he made 
no answer. 

And now a silence fell on both; for, with the 
memory of the past around her, how could she taunt 
this man with all the sin and shame with which he 
had built a wall, over the bloody sides of which even 
Love dare not climb ? 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Rising, Orloff moved towards the door; then, 
turning, he walked up and down the narrow cabin, 
and, watching him, Heather's heart went out towards 
him with a great — ay, a nigh irresistible — longing. 
That he would let her go she still did not doubt. 
The thought that filled her with dismay was the 
letting him go back to the renegade's work — the 
traitor's hopeless goal. 

'Philip,' she said — and he started eagerly at the 
name — 'you say you love me, and I know you do. 
For the sake of your love, will you do something for 

' I will do anything but let you go.' 

'I must go,' she answered simply. 'But will you 
go, too ?' 

' With you ?' he asked strangely. 

'That is impossible,' she answered sadly. 'But 
will you, for my sake, leave this life of murder and 
dishonour ?' 

' No !' he interrupted sullenly. Then, again stand- 
ing before her, he implored her not to leave him to 
himself. ' See what your influence has done already,' 
he urged. ' If you will stay with me, I pledge myself 
that nothing you ask will be refused ; that for your 
sweet sake I will change the face of Asiatic war.' 
And so, by every promise which one so powerful as 
he might make, he entreated this woman who loved 
him to remain. 

Then, in his despair, he grew unworthy of even his 
fallen being. 

' But be my wife, and you will be a queen ! Life 
and death shall be yours to give or take!' he ex- 

Digitized by VjOOQlC 


claimed. * For you I will conquer both Australian and 
Mongol, and together we will found a new race of kings. 
Only be mine, and I will march beside the heroes 
of old, owning obedience to none but you F 

Silently she let him talk on; but, as he drew 
picture upon picture of future glory, all having her 
image in the foreground, the knowledge of how he 
had wrapped his very heart about her filled her with 
a vague gladness and a very present fear. 

At last he ended, and then her fears took shape ; 
for, sitting beside her, he told her calmly, and with 
the set face of one who hates himself, but yet has no 
power to change his resolution, that, even though he 
broke his word, now that he was face to face ^ith 
the prospect of her loss, he dared not let her Jcave 

There are times when we know a man speaks truth, 
even though it may be when he is telling us of his 
resolve to break a former promise. So Heather now 
realized that Orloff had in his last words uttered a 
determination not to be shaken. 

Back to the Mongol camp she was resolved not to 
go under any possible conditions, and still his death- 
less desire for her had something in it which awoke 
a responsive chord. She knew that, in spite of all, 
she not only did not hate, but that she loved this 
renegade; and now, rising above all her natural 
horror of his present life, came the thought that love 
such as this might help her to redeem him. Under 
any circumstances, she recognised that she must not 
go back with him to a life where such a work must be 
well-nigh hopeless. On the other hand, did he forsake 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


it for her, she would be doing her country incalculable 
service ; and if he was ready for such a sacrifice, surely 
it would not be in vain. 

'Philip/ she said again, but not with all the 
entreaty of the past, * will you let me go?' 

'No!' he answered. 'Call me liar, coward, what 
you will, I will not !' 

'Then,' she exclaimed, 'will you leave ambition 
and power behind, and come with me ¥ 

At first he looked at her as one who has not heard 
aright; but when she repeated it, he laid his hand 
on her shoulder, and answered in the deep, tremor- 
less voice of a man who has won back his manhood : 

'Heather, I will go with you to the end of the 

Then she laid her hand in his as a token that she 
was content; and so, putting all the past aside, she 
took up without more ado the task of working out 
this man's salvation. 

Digitized by VjOOQlC 

[ 429 ] 



Night now shrouded the waters of the Gulf, and the 
clouds spread out their heavy mantles between the 
stars and the sea. Sobbing in endless discontent, the 
waves broke across the prow of the Hi Lung as she 
raced on through the darkness, but their sullen 
beats against her iron sides woke no answering echoes 
in the heart of the man who now strode up and down 
the deck. 

Philip Orloff was filled with the ecstasy of a victory 
such as never was won by the sword on sea or land. 
The woman he loved was to be his for evermore — 
well, if not for evermore, until that time when one or 
other of them had to solve death's mysteries. But to- 
night he had little thought save for life — life with her. 
Then came the thought: Where in all the world 
could he hope to find a resting-place ? Not certainly 
among the haunts of civilization, for now the East 
would execrate his name even as the West had 

But what need he care for all their impotent hate ? 
Heather was now his ; and surely in the vast Pacific 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


he could yet find some spot where he could rest for- 
gotten, and forgetting all else but her. 

Then he began to wonder what Zenski would think, 
and, for the sake of the friendship he held for the old 
Russian, he determined to send him a warning of his 
intention from Thursday Island. For the others what 
did it matter ? Half of them were already traitors, 
the remainder soldiers of fortune. Looking ahead, 
he saw the Mongol army divided and its strength 
shattered by internal discontent, and the vision filled 
him with grim satisfaction, for, excepting a few men 
like Eedski, he cared nothing for what became of the 
rest. Accustomed to regard himself as the head and 
front of the invasion, Orloff failed to realize that 
another might arise to take his place, one perhaps 
who, now the master-mind had left a scheme, might 
work out the details as successfully as he himself 
could have done. 

Dismissing the past, he began to work out his 
future plans. Johnson had to be disposed of, and 
now that he began to meet it face to face, the question 
of his own disappearance grew less easy of solution. 

Leaning against one of the turrets, Orloff fell into 
so deep a train of thought that he failed to hear 
Johnson approach him ; but as the Australian laid his 
hand on his shoulder, a sharp call from the bridge 
made him look up. From the darkness innumerable 
eyes seemed to glower upon him. Then in a moment 
he realized what it meant. * The Chinese fleet !' he 
exclaimed; and the voice of the captain answered 
back from the bridge, as he signalled to the engine- 
room to go astern : 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 



'The lubbers will be into us! Close the water- 
tight compartments !' 

On the starboard bow a dark mass showed not a 
ship's length away, and now from her deck hurried 
words of command floated across the narrow space. 
But Orloff waited no longer ; the thought of Heather's 
peril rose before him, and, rushing to the companion- 
way, he dashed into her state-room just as the iron 
doors of the bulk-heads shut with a dull crash. 

Left to himself, Johnson ran towards the bows 
of the Hi Lung in obedience to one of those sudden 
impulses which so often change the course of human 
lives. As he reached them, the cutwater of the ad- 
vancing ship crashed into the plates of the Chinese 
cruiser, and for a little the two vessels lay the one 
embedded in the other. 

Above the cracking of spars and grinding of steel on 
steel, Ted thought he heard English voices ; still, this 
might mean nothing, for in a service such as the 
Chinese their presence was likely enough. Like a 
flash the thought went through his brain, * Shall I 
chance it, or go down where I am?' Already he 
could feel the Hi Lung heeling over, and see the bows 
of the ship that had rammed her drawing clear. A 
second more, and the alternative would be gone for 
ever ; so, scrambling up on the shattered bulwarks, he 
leaped for life or death on to the bows of the unknown 
ship just as a blaze of light lit up the sea in which the 
Hi Lung was slowly turning bottom upwards. Un- 
noticed by the sailors, who were now using every effort 
to keep their own ship afloat, Johnson rose to his feet 

$ just in time to see the last of the Chinese man-of-war. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Top-heavy, like all her class, and, in view of taking 
in supplies at Thursday Island, almost without ballast, 
the Hi Lung, once she listed, had no chance of right- 
ing. Still, as became a daughter of the sea, she went 
with stately dignity to where the good ships lie on 
beds of sand, and shelves of rock, and depths unknown 
save to the dead. On every side strange vessels 
floated on seas of flame, while from the one which all 
unwittingly had done this deed a flood of light fell on 
the dying ship. 

Johnson could see her captain standing on the 
bridge, and round him a group of officers ; but keenly 
as he looked, he could see no sign of either Heather 
or Leroy. 

Why the men before him made no effort to save 
themselves struck him as strange, but no reason 
came — at least, not then ; for now the Hi Lung gave 
a weary lurch, and as the crew, mad with fear and 
despair, began to leap from her sides and stern, she 
suddenly rolled over and shot prow first into the 
depths below, her propellers reflecting back the rays 
of the search-lights as they drove her downwards to 
her grave. 

When, realizing that a collision must take place, 
Orloff rushed into Heather's state-room, it was with 
the idea of bringing her on deck ; the closing of the 
bulkheads, however, not only prevented his doing 
this, but practically made prisoners of them both. 
Taking the girl in his arms, he rushed to one of the 
doors, but even as he struck with impotent rage at its 
iron panels the collision took place, and sent both 
himself and his burden against the side of the cabin. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Pulling himself together, he staggered to the divan 
and laid his senseless companion tenderly upon it ; as 
he did so, he began to realize that the ship was not 
only not righting, but that the list became more acute 
each second. Yes, there was no doubt of it ; now he 
had to hold Heather to prevent her from slipping off 
the divan. The Hi Lung was going over, and they 
were trapped like rats, and, like them, must drown. 
God ! if Heather would only awake, only speak to him 
once ! In another minute it would be too late ! Down 
in that fearsome prison he felt the dying ship's last 
gasp, and, catching the girl in his arms, he kissed her 
white, beautiful face, holding her as though in defiance 
of death itself. Then a shiver ran through the cabin 
as the propellers rose out of the water, and then he 
and she lay together on what but a moment ago had 
been the ceiling. No lamp now burned to show him 
his position, but as the minutes passed, and death did 
not come, awful possibilities began to fill his brain. 

A gruesome theory put forward after the sinking of 
the Victoria flashed into his mind. Here, as there, the 
bulkheads had been closed ; the vessel had gone down 
bottom upwards, but, unlike the English ship, there 
were no boilers in this one to burst, and so provide a 
merciful escape for any wretches imprisoned in the 
air-tight compartments. Alone with his own fearful 
imaginings, for Heather still lay wrapt in merciful 
unconsciousness, Orloff crushed back the demons of 
despair, and, as he sank to his grave, began to calcu- 
late how long he and his companion had to live. At 
best his reckoning was a rough one, but so far as he 
could judge, seven hours at least, perhaps as much 


Digitized by VjOOQIC 


more, still remained for them. For an instant a 
desire to kill himself, and so leave more air for 
Heather, came to him, but he put it away. Such 
sacrifice could only add horror to the final scene; 
better that she should die in his arms than live a few 
short hours to die at last alone. 

Now the moment that he dreaded, yet of all things 
desired, came, and Heather recovered consciousness. 

Holding her closely to him, he told her the dread 
story of their imprisonment in the depths of the sea ; 
and when she understood she found his lips, and 
kissed him, and told him she was well content, as 
death must come, to meet it here with him. 

So in this strange sepulchre these two, who had 
spent all their lives apart, sat waiting death together, 
and the woman, partly because she had lived her life 
* in the shadow of the grave/ but chiefly for the reason 
that she of all things wished to take this man with 
her when the hour came, refused to waste with him 
the minutes in sorrowing for the shortness of their 
reunion, seeking rather to induce him to prepare to 
go with her on that last long journey whose starting- 
post was so close ahead. 

* * * * * 

Philip Orloff and Heather were dying. The air of 
the state-room where they lay entombed had of neces- 
sity gradually heightened in temperature, and was 
now saturated with aqueous vapour. For some time 
Orloff had been possessed of a species of delirium, and 
the narrow cabin rang now with hoarse words of com- 
mand, now with bitter exclamations of shame and 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Before him the scene at Charleville, where he stood 
beside the bed of the murdered sisters, rose con- 
tinually ; nor could he blot from his eyes the look of 
the old man he had saved from the knout on the 
earthworks. Visions limned in blood and framed with 
pain floated around him, and even Heather's voice 
had now no power to save him from himself. 

But now, as the oxygen disappeared and the noxious 
effects of the carbonic acid became more potent, the 
dying man's fancies took other shapes. All was for- 
gotten, save that past when Love and he first met : 
Heather was again to him the child full of tender 
possibilities, and he the lover who was to make them 
blossom into glorious realities. 

Lying in his arms, the girl caught his words from 
the very borders of the Silent Land. Past power of 
speech, and so close to death's deep sleep that all 
things earthly had grown indistinct, she, too, had 
bridged the intervening years, and now spent the 
short moments that remained of life in treading once 
again the gladsome meads of early youth. 

So side by side they died down in the depths of the 
sea. The plants of that cold land where sun is not 
will clamber over their sepulchre, and strange monsters 
swim in stupid wonderment round their tomb ; but, 
oblivious alike to the wash of the waves that beat 
against their prison-house and the restless winds that 
waft the good ships overhead, these two will lie at rest 
till the sea gives up her dead. 



<?., C. <fe Co. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 






' .... A volume of verse from the pen of the well-known cross- 
country rider, Captain Mackay. The work is aptly dedicated to the 
memory of the late poet-horseman, A. L. Gordon, whose footsteps the 
author evidently follows. The opening number gives a spirited de- 
scription of TatteraalTs Grand National Steeplechase, and the writer 
has to be complimented on the racy and graphic style in which the 
story is told. The bush sketches which follow give ample evidence that 
the author has not wooed the muse in vain, and he may be regarded as 
the poet-horseman of the colonies.' — Sydney Morning Herald (Sport- 
ing Columns). 

' It is not too much to say, after reading Mr. Mackay's rhymes of 
bush and turf, that we have one who gives promise of being called a 
" poet rider." Mr. Mackay is well known upon the turf as a good un- 
professional rider, and when he chooses riding as his theme he has a 
right to a fair hearing. But it is not upon this claim alone that Mr. 
Mackay is entitled to an audience. He has the real poetic touch as 
well His verses are just what they profess to be — bits of music and 
incident born of the life which they seek to portray. . . . The bush 
rhymes in the book are as good, if not better than the racing bits. . . . 
They are well-builded, and have a warm and quick fancy which is Mr. 
Mackay's chief characteristic' — Sydney Morning Herald. 

• Mr. Mackay ... is known upon the turf as an amateur horseman 
of great ability ; and as such his verses should command, as they 
deserve to, notice from every sporting man. . . . Even the most 
casual observer will note that their author claims the possession of a 
poetic touch only too rarely found in beginners. . . . Anyone taking 
an interest in the turf, and more especially those who love the rattle of 
the rails, will find something highly interesting on almost every page of 
Mr. Mackay's maiden attempt at singing what he himself loves so well ; 
and should he meet with sufficient encouragement to justify him con- 
tinuing in his new line, " Stirrup Jingles " will always deserve a place 
in every racing man's library, and its author grow into a worthy 
substitute of "poor Gordon." '— Sydney Daily Telegraph (Sporting 

'Mr. Mackay's verses betray the feeling of a poet and no mean 
power of expression. He is able to paint in words what he feels. . . . 
It is Australian life that is depicted. The framework of the picture is 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


local. It can be mistaken for nothing but Australian. Mr. Mackay 
writes of what he knows ; he has opened his eyes and recorded what be 
saw, finding that around him were materials for poetic treatment. . . . 
His bush sketches are manly and f nil of go and of the hardy natural 
life of the cattle, camp, and stock-yard. . . . Mr. Mackay shows to 
advantage also as a painter of natural beauty : only a poet could have 
written "Meanderjngs in an Austral Arcade." We have had much 
pleasure in perusing the work, and hope that this collection is not the 
last we shall get from Mr. Mackay 's pen.' — Maittand Mercury, 

'There is undoubtedly a very true ring of poetry pervading the 
Whole — the poetry of thought if not of rhyme. We do not therefore 
hesitate to predict for the writer that he will yet attain a place, and a 
good one too, amongst our lyric and descriptive Southern poets. . . . 
The lines upon " Hypatia " are very beautiful, and with an easy fall that 
would imply the true poetic gift of thought and metre fully harmonized. 
We have forborne to quote from Mr. Mackay's little book, but we do 
not hesitate to recommend it to our readers, and heartily wish for the 
author the success be deserves.' — Sydney Quarterly Magazine. 

'Mr. Kenneth Mackay . . . has just issued a little book entitled 
" Stirrup Jingles," which, as its name would indicate, deals with such 
themes as Gordon loved to sing. The book is, in fact, dedicated to 
Gordon's memory in some good verses . . . and off the author canters 
in a lengthy and raoy description of a Randwick meet somewhat in the 
" Dagonet " vein, and follows this piece with a number of fiery, dash- 
ing, strong-pulsed "Bush Sketches," "Yarns by Old Stagers," . . . 
and a number of short pieces. . . . Mr. Mackay shows in his little 
book quite enough talent to go a lone hand.' — The Bulletin. 

' Mr. Mackay has an easy, natural style of versification which makes 
some of his poems very pleasant reading. He is deserving of credit 
for his laudable endeavour to make his verses as far as possible 
representative of Australian life and scenery — an effort which has been 
attended with considerable success on his part. . . . The poet who is 
to succeed in securing the title of a representative Australian poet 
must be he through whose spirit the genius of Australian scenery and 
national life is distilled into pure verse, uninfluenced by the style or 
mannerisms of the old-world poets, or those who owe their inspiration 
to such sources.' — Freeman's Journal (Sydney). 

'These "Jingles from the Bush and the Turf," by Mr. Kenneth 
Mackay, dedicated to Adam Lindsay Gordon, and perfumed with the 
aroma of his poetic fervour, are sufficient evidence that young Australia 
is not lacking in that imaginative gift without which average human 
life is but a sordid round of plodding toil. . . . Mr. Mackay has 
listened to the singing of a greater than Gordon — to that same spirit 
of the Bush which inspired the earlier poets, and which has alike 
influenced their dreamings ; . . . and Nature has woven her spell about 
him, developing his perceptive faculties and showing him that bidden 
beauty of wilderness and gully, that underlying poetry of civilized life 
to which the conventional glance is blind. . . . We want more such 
writers as Mr. Mackay to infuse poetry into a sordid social atmosphere, 
and to point out the beauty, truth and nobility that lie about our path 
unnoticed by the busy crowd.' — Sunday News. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


by , 


' A welcome reproduction ... is " Out Back," a novel by the 
deservedly popular Australian writer, Mr. Kenneth Mackay. . . 
Certain episodes of early Australian life ... are narrated with re- 
markable spirit and graphic verve. " Out Back " forms a brilliant 
pendant to "Stirrup Jingles," an admirable wrk, which gave its 
author popularity.' — Daily Telegraph. 

1 " Out Back " is a stirring and sensational story. The scene is laid 
in the back blocks, and the various aspects of bush and station life are 
described with much truth and reality. . . . We should be sorry to 
lose such a thrilling incident as the robbery of the gold escort, which is 
one of the best things in the book. . . . The account of the ride by 
Sergeant Caban and his prisoner through the blazing forest, and the 
terrible fate that befalls the chief villain, is among the most powerful 
scenes in the book. . . . "Out Back " is a vigorous and readable pro- 
duction, in which there is scarcely a dull page.' — Australasian. 

'"Out Back" is a story of Australasian life, which has already 
reached a third edition and acquired a well-merited popularity. The 
story is powerful, original, and possessed of an exciting plot, which 
develops on sound lines. Mr. Mackay is favourably known as a 
writer, and his happy descriptions of life in the bush, of the romance 
and adventure which may characterize it, and the racy, if profane (and 
therefore, we fear, characteristic), types of humanity to be found there, 
will add to his reputation here as at home. . . . Certainly Mr. Mackay 
s one of the most gifted of a clever band of writers who are making 
a fine literary reputation for Australia.'— Leeds Mercury. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


4 The story is full of life and incident, illustrative to a large degree of 
the characters and customs and haunts and daring of the bushranger 
and his confederates, white and native, in the not very remote times 
when these undesirable products and adjuncts of the earlier settlement 
were so troublesome. The story will interest home readers quite as 
much as those of the Antipodes.' — Liverpool Daily Post. 

' " Out Back " is a good, straightforward tale. . . . Mr. Mackay 
knows his Australia, which is more than can be said of every Australian 
novelist.' — Sydney Morning Herald. 

'The reader of "Out Back," who looks for local colour and evidence 
of an intimate acquaintance with squatting and up-country incident of 
the older days, will not be disappointed in these pages.' — Sydney Mail. 

' In " Out Back " Kenneth Mackay shows his knowledge of the true 
inwardness of Australia and the inhabitants thereof, and his work 
throughout shows that he has seen or lived — bushranging excepted — 
and become letter-perfect in the scenery of which he writes. . '. . 
Kenneth Mackay is a word-artist in the best sense of the word.' — 
Sydney Bulletin. 

' '* Out Back " is full of incident, and gives an excellent description 
of social life in the " back blocks " during the bushranging period in the 
Australian Colonies. . . . The character of Captain Scarlett, the bush- 
ranger, is very well drawn, and the interest of the story is kept up to 
the close.' — New Zealand Herald. 

' " Out Back " is a book which argues extensive and intimate know- 
ledge of station life, if, indeed, additional proof were needed in view of 
the author's contributions to Australian poetical literature.' — Freeman'* 
Journal (Sydney). 

* " Out Back " is a story of the Australian bush, and is full of vigour 
from start to finish. . . . It is as interesting and exciting a story of 
adventure as one could wish for, even at Christmas-time.' — Poole and 
Bournemouth Herald. 

* "Out Back" has plenty of incident, and maintains the reader's 
interest to the close.' — Olasgoto Herald. 

* " Out Back " is a spirited tale of life and adventure, having a good 
plot, with love-making, bushranging . . . and many interesting 
pictures of native Australian customs and characters.' — Scotsman. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 



*>< Is TW * book te *** °° *** datt ln<Ucated Ww't or at the 

■» n;v expiration of a definite period after the date of borrowing, as 

" / ^ provided by the library rules or by special arrangement with 

to the Librarian in charge. 





Sl/Bcc MAP i' 5 1996 




Ws "-"- 

yqj ft-4-Sfltt